These are strange, scary times.

The way a business or organization communicates with its stakeholders (employees, clients, customers, etc.) now is key to their reputation and how they fare with the people and communities that are most important to them. As we all maneuver through this uncharted territory, it is important now, perhaps more than ever, to address and manage the public’s expectations of us as businesses, community institutions and valued organizations.

While the long-term impacts of COVID-19 remain largely unknown, businesses can do their part to help alleviate this stress as it relates to their work by giving their stakeholders a sense of knowing all the facts as they become available.

A solid communication strategy will have well-defined, thought out messaging that clearly targets the right audience with the right information at the right time. Radio silence fuels frustration, so keeping everyone informed via various communication channels, such as local news outlets, social media, SMS (text) messages and company website updates is key to addressing and meeting the public’s expectations.

The best results come when a business or organization sets the expectations for the people most important to them by addressing these three things:

  • “This is what we will do.”
  • “This is what we are doing.”
  • “This is what we’ve done.”

Beware of “hype cycles”

A Feb. 27 article from the Harvard Business Review highlighted the fast and furious speculation coming from our social networks and some media outlets, offering this warning “beware of hype cycles.”

“Yesterday’s news is likely to frame how your organization thinks about the crisis today,” said article authors Martin Reeves, Nikolaus Lang and Philipp Carlsson-Szlezak. “As you absorb the latest news, think critically about the source of the information before acting on it.”

In times of uncertainty, the public does turn to the people and information outlets they trust the most. That means that longtime “traditional” media outlets – like the daily newspaper and local TV and radio stations – become more important for accurate distribution of information.

Utilizing the news media

The media is a critical partner for the public and businesses alike during a crisis. They are the vessel to quickly and continuously deliver vital information to the masses. The local media is approaching the COVID-19 situation in a “real-time, as it happens” format. Television stations are breaking into regular programming as our local, state and national officials provide updates on the rising number of individuals with confirmed cases and unveil new regulations to stop the spread of illness. Stations are also going live on their social media networks to deliver the latest information as they are receiving it.

All of these changes mean businesses and organizations will need to quickly implement, adapt to and enforce new regulations. The media may want someone readily available that they can check in with throughout the duration of this crisis to deliver crucial information to the public about your business or organization as it happens.
When working with the media during a crisis event such as this, it is important to consider the following:


Activating crisis communication support

COVID-19 is proving that crisis situations can present the need for situational communication outside the normal scope of operations for most companies. When the threat has passed and the worst is behind us, how a business or organization set and managed expectations – by keeping the public well-informed during a crisis event – will determine the impact on the company’s ability to hit the ground running and get back to business.

The Ehrhardt Group is working closely with clients and trusted media partners to ensure accurate and timely information related to COVID-19 is delivered. We are here, we are working and we are in this together. If help is needed, talk to us.

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