The COVID-19 crisis has left many companies asking themselves what their internal and external communications programs should look like while we navigate the pandemic and the recovery process. Shareholders, customers, internal team members and the general public all demand updates and direction from executive leadership, yet the fear of accusations about being tone deaf or insensitive to the new normal often hold companies back from providing these updates in a timely manner.
Now is the time for companies to reevaluate not just what they need to share but what is appropriate to share, and how to communicate these updates in a transparent yet respectful manner. The global business community is aware that COVID-19 has changed the way companies are operating, from delays to their supply chains to reduced revenues and the resulting layoffs. It is the job of the companies and their communications teams to provide transparency and a realistic outlook on how this pandemic has impacted operations while reassuring audiences of business continuity and recovery efforts.
As companies slowly return to a very changed business environment, the role of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and sustainability programs will only grow and become more prominent. With the pandemic as a constant reminder that we are all in this together, now is the time for companies to commit to helping others in their community and around the world. It is also a tactic for positively engaging your respective audiences during a time where constant changes and emotionally straining news coverage puts many on edge. When developing communications to spotlight these strategies, companies need to ARM themselves to ensure their message and their efforts are portrayed in the best light.
- Awareness – The COVID-19 pandemic is truly novel, and with that comes hourly updates and changes. While developing content and planning publication for CSR PR programs, communications teams need to evaluate the latest updates on the pandemic. Publication dates and even the content itself can change based on the latest news flow.
- Respect – Content should always, and I mean ALWAYS, take a respectful tone around the impact of COVID-19. Some companies try to scoot around the devastation that this has had on individuals’ lives and the market. Acknowledging that these things are happening and addressing your audience in a non-promotional way demonstrates understanding and compassion.
- Mean it – When an executive or company extends their condolences and acknowledges the state of business, they need to maintain this same tone and state of consciousness across all platforms including social media, contributed content, blogs, shareholder calls and more. Corporate updates and all CSR PR efforts must be genuine and clear across all areas of communications.
This Wednesday, May 6th at 11:00am EST, I will delve further into CSR PR and this topic in a free webinar hosted by KindLink, a platform where businesses and charities connect and manage their corporate social responsibility, fundraising, volunteering, donor CRM, and measure and share their sustainability impact. Together with Hannah Nokes, Chief Optimist at Magnify Impact and Iskren Kulev, CEO & Founder, KindLink, we will take an in-depth look at why CSR and corporate sustainability needs to be maintained and how communications may change in the months to come.