In this second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, gaps have developed between resource availability, resource requirements, and clear communication. During such a crisis there is a heightened need for transparency and direction; however, there is knowledge asymmetry due to it being either inaccessible or contradictory. Therefore, communication professionals have the onus of being clear, concise, and transparent while communicating with their employees, customers, and vendor partners.
This requires them to be not only have emergency guidelines, but also have centralized plans and response protocols, as well as full situational knowledge to make appropriate decisions as the situation unfolds. In such a crisis-ridden environment, where there is an information barrage from all fronts and misinformation has a way of trickling down in the organization, being quick, efficient, and clear but in an empathetic manner will be key.
Although there is no clearly-defined communications playbook as such to navigate the ins and outs of a crisis of this magnitude, we at Zinnov have collated some best practices and guiding principles across 5 key levers of an organization that will help communications professionals in these challenging times.
Structured communication, coupled with definitive action is not only crucial but need of the hour when handling a crisis, especially where there is room for confusion and panic. The idea is to convey critical and vital information to the stakeholders, keep the messages simple, succinct, and actionable.
Vaccination is a very personal choice. Hence, communication around this subject needs to be treated accordingly. Here are a few ways the subject can be handled:
Empathy and compassion are essential for leaders when leading from the front, in the face of a global pandemic. To steer the organization through the crisis, leaders must back their words with actions.
A crisis is ripe for misinformation and rumors to thrive among employees in an organization, when there is a lack of clear, transparent communication. Therefore, communications professionals should focus on managing the situation with sensitivity and care.
Keeping the global leaders of the organization, customers, vendor partners, and all relevant stakeholders is an essential part of crisis communication.
Although these are not set in stone, communications professionals need to take a discretionary call, based on factors such as size of the organization, geographical spread of employees, number of locations at which offices are present, etc. A structured, empathetic, and clear communications response will be effective, notwithstanding the factors mentioned above.