As COVID-19 infections continue to spread across the country, so have emails and communications about how businesses are handling this situation within their capacity. As fatigued as some of us may be in receiving COVID-19 related emails from businesses that we interact with, there is no doubt that in such uncertain times, communication is key.
This pandemic has brought upon unprecedented circumstances to businesses and communities worldwide. As the situation continues to evolve, some businesses have found it challenging to articulate a suitable message for their external stakeholders. Some of our clients have raised concerns about coming across too flippant, dramatic or even opportunistic if they say anything at this time. However, clear and concise communication during uncertain times can actually benefit the credibility of a business in the long run.
Talking to your audience is not jumping on the bandwagon
A situation like the COVID-19 pandemic causes a lot of changes to take place at speed. As a result, uncertainty and confusion is rife. Taking the time to carefully communicate to external stakeholders allows a business to strengthen and maintain the relationships.
It is important to remember that businesses are powered by people, to serve the needs of communities. Hence, this is the time to demonstrate the human aspect of the business to show that they are here to support the needs of external stakeholders. Something that can be easily forgotten during more stable times.
Whether it is a blog post or an email, an effective piece of communication during uncertain times should at the very least, accomplish the following:
Provide clarity where you can
While there may be many things beyond a business owner’s control during an uncertain time, there are still aspects that can be managed. Factors like operation hours, service alterations, quantity control or even when remote working has been mobilised should be communicated.
Providing clarity to external stakeholders where possible helps maintain the calm and reduces the risk of rumours that may be disruptive to operations in the long run.
Manage stakeholder expectations
When circumstances change, it is important to communicate that the business has acknowledged them. This demonstrates that they are monitoring the pulse of the situation and doing what they can to manage it. If these changes affect operations, it is important to manage expectations accordingly in light of them to avoid any assumption of delivery, whether it is a service or product.
It is important to remember that transparency and honesty is paramount in this. Avoid over-promising on delivery or speculating outcomes, uncertain times may bring unexpected eventualities.
Recognise the silver linings where appropriate
In the frenzy of an emerging situation, it is beneficial to take note the good things that have occurred. Have colleagues gone above and beyond to deliver service to the best of their ability? Has someone’s foresight saved the customers from more upheaval?
Taking the time to appreciate these things not only present the best out of an awkward situation, it provides the audience a sense of hope and shows that the team is striving to deliver a sense of normalcy during an evolving circumstance. This ties in very closely with the next point.
Assure your audience
When you effectively provide clarity, manage expectations and recognise the commitment of your dedicated staff, customers and stakeholders a sense of assurance is received that the business is working hard to navigate through the uncertainty.
By assuring the external stakeholders, a business is laying the building blocks towards a stronger long term relationship.
Commit to updating your audience regularly
One thing that is certain about uncertain times, is that things will change. Therefore, it makes sense to communicate to your external stakeholders regularly.
Regular and well considered communication not only provides your audience with a sense of assurance that their best interests are considered, it demonstrates integrity for the business. This is invaluable in the long run when things settle down because the business would have paved a reputation of confidence during the more challenging times.
If you need more advice on how to manage your external communications, we are ever ready to help.
Feel free to get in touch with us today!
Thinking about how to communicate effectively to your colleagues during challenging times?
Check out Greta Geoghegan’s blog here!