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March 24, 2020

Connect, connect, connect: communications in the time of COVID-19

As we grapple with communication strategies under the panic of COVID-19, the biggest question is how do you communicate in an unprecedented time such as this?

Many are at home and crying out for information about COVID-19. The nature of a new virus is that there are no answers that can give us peace of mind. In reality, the scientists don’t know enough yet to tell us anything more than what they are observing. Governments are acting as best as they can. Policy responses are evolving. Business responses are evolving. There is no playbook.

But many businesses are now in the fight of their lives. You may need to communicate to survive. I’m sure everyone involved in marketing and communications is grappling with this at the moment.

A friend started doing video blogs for family and friends last week and although I’m not personally keen on the format as a personal expression, my wife and I did one to share with friends and family. I’d like to think it did a little good. A little good is a great KPI right now.

My view is that we should be aiming for a little good. Now is a time for communications aimed at providing a little light in dark times.

A communication strategy

First, ramp up internal comms. Everyone working remotely. If you’re like me, it is hard to focus with all the bad news popping up left and right. At our agency, we’ve really ramped up internal comms. It largely happened organically, everyone is sharing everything and supporting each other.

Second, with your audience — customers, partners or stakeholders. I think communicating with suppliers at the moment should be a priority. They’re usually a last thought, if at all, in any communications strategy but your suppliers probably need to hear from you just as much as your staff, if not more.

Finally, your customers and stakeholders. I’ve been reading every word of the CEO letters that have been hitting my inbox over the last few days. They are invariably well written, informative, heart felt and personal. If you’ve invested in your ‘owned’ audience over the past few years this is where it is going to pay huge dividends.

Communication as a tool to combat anxiety

Anxiety levels generally are through the roof. As this piece in the New York Times points out some of the basic tools to combat anxiety are fundamental communications strategies.

Help people find the facts. Even if it only relates to your business. Help them contextualise. Help them connect.

One way to deal with a traumatic experience like the one we’re living through is to talk about it. As a basic strategy that serves an underlying need for your audiences – assist them to tell their stories. Your content doesn’t need to achieve anything beyond helping people share experiences and talk about it. How are your teams doing working from home? What are your customers experiencing during the crisis?

A great example was the head of Microsoft Teams sharing the experiences of their people in China last week. Or was it a fortnight ago? It seems like it’s been an eon since.

The world just got a whole lot smaller, and scarier. We as communications professionals can help by keeping the channels open.

Read more from Click2View:

  1. Had an event planned? Here’s 5 things you can do to salvage it.
  2. Amidst the disruption from COVID-19, use LinkedIn Live for your content marketing.
  3. Perhaps podcasts are an option to consider. They’re definitely becoming more mainstream.

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Click2View is Southeast Asia’s premiere full-service independent B2B content marketing agency servicing clients like Microsoft, Google, Visa, Prudential, and the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.