I can’t take the word ‘unprecedented’ any longer.  I’m so done with it. It’s been in every statement and every release.  We get it. The problem is we’re still not sure where we’re heading and therein lies our problem.  The control freaks amongst us are freaking out and we’re all having to live by a new mantra – and that takes huge levels of emotional intelligence.  What feels right to communicate today often feels very wrong when you wake up tomorrow.  

This dynamic environment we’re living through will surely test us all – some will thrive in this new normal and others will painfully adapt.  We’re the generation that has learned to embrace change but change at this speed and gravity is a whole new challenge. So, for today, here are my seven golden rules for communicators – there are many more, but here’s my starter for ten:

  1. Lead by example – transparency and honesty matter more than ever – we’re in this together and staff want to know what you’re doing about it – open channels of communication are key.
  2. Now isn’t the time to worry about the competition – we’re all in this together – practice being magnanimous – and make sure your clients are doing the same – their customers and stakeholders will respect them far more.
  3. Be human – clients need to lose the corporate jargon now and this means CEOs need to show they care – how and what they say has to be reframed and delivered authentically. 
  4. Embrace where this puts you with your client relationships – if you’re not in the C suite now then you should be.  This is where we get to assess the unseen risk of every corporate action and every communication. We’re the ones who need to ask the questions no-one else in the room may be thinking about.
  5. Review and recalibrate constantly – levels of scrutiny are at an all-time high and audiences are feeling vulnerable and sensitive – words can be distorted and misinterpreted, especially on social media so sense check everything again and again in light of the ever-changing public sentiment.
  6. Move fast and make it count – stay calm but stay active, especially on social media channels – a good flow of information is key. 
  7. Rethink how campaigns are executed so that they land well with audiences – my prediction here is that social media influencers will wane – we’re all tiring of them surely?  Partnerships need to be meaningful and sustainable now so the smart influencers should be thinking of how they need to evolve their relationships with brands in the future.

And if any further proof were needed of the need for acting for the greater good, check out Did They Help, a website that tracks companies and public figures in terms of their actions during the COVID-19 pandemic, ranking them from heroes to zeroes.  Scrutiny is indeed at an all-time high and is going to outlast this crisis for sure.  

When all this is over, our clients and their customers will remember the actions taken by the best businesses – we may be in ‘unprecedented’ times, but we are also in times where our words and actions matter more than ever.  If there was ever a moment when we needed a reminder of why we’re all in the business of communications this is it, so make it count.