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3 Tips for Effectively Communicating in the Wake of Coronavirus

Updated March 12, 2020.

The World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spreading Coronavirus outbreak a pandemic and Wisconsin has declared a state of emergency. In its path, we’ve seen national and international conventions canceled, business and school closings, and widespread travel bans initiated.

Whether you serve consumers or other businesses, your Coronavirus response plan has likely been on your mind or already developed. In addition to a response plan, it’s important to remember a corresponding messaging plan that communicates your actions to your audience. Here are three thought starters to help strategically develop your messaging plan.

1.  Develop a Cohesive Message and Talking Points

When inevitable customer questions arise, ensure your internal team is on the same page and relaying the same message. Whether that includes a few spokespeople or hundreds of customer support representatives, consistency is key.

Understand the core of your message, thoughtfully develop your talking points, and train spokespeople to properly deliver that message.

Think about the who, what, when, where, why, and how: anticipate the questions that your customers will ask. Cohesive talking points and a unified front also instill confidence in your team, as they know exactly how to respond to questions and situations.

2.   Be Proactive and State Only the Facts

The next step is to put your plan in place and proactively announce it to your audience to mitigate risk in your facilities or protect those attending your events. Many organizations have started this process, so the sooner you can release your plan, the better. Be truthful about your plans, don’t speculate about what’s going to happen, and provide timely updates. Be careful not to inundate your audience with too much information and just state the facts.

This can be done through various outlets, such as email, your website, or social media. Below is an example of timely, factual updates given by the Craft Brewing Conference regarding its annual tradeshow in April.

craft brewers conference communication march 9 2020

3.  Avoid Fearful Language and Practice Authenticity

The messaging in your communications should not instill fear. Instead, use a voice of reason and comfort while being authentic to your brand voice. We recommend the updates come from your CEO or a familiar face within your organization. Target’s messaging, delivered via email and available on its website, is personal and empathetic while instilling a sense of security.

target ceo communication about coronavirus

Every business and event is different, requiring unique proactive and reactive plans. While watching what others do can be helpful as you construct your messaging plan, keep in mind your organization’s unique voice and customer base.

Want more Element PR team tips? Read up on our #PRbrief.


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