For communication professionals these past few weeks were probably the busiest in our professional careers. And more is yet to come. As communicators, all eyes – internally and externally – will be on us. So now is the time that we need to step up and show our true colors, agility and skill.

Needless to say, communication – and a lot of it – is key in times of Crisis. However, now more than ever, our communication needs to intentional, well timed and “no (wo)man should be left behind”. I’ll share a few guidelines that will probably be a simple reminder for all of us, and hopefully a virtual anchor that we can refer to, if and when, we feel overwhelmed.

First, stay true your Corporate Voice. The Corporate Voice is a combination of the organization’s vision, values, purpose, pillars (proof points) and its people. Anything that the brand / corporation says or does during a Crisis must be in-line with their corporate identity. Not only will it be scrutinized and questioned for authenticity, but it will also be the new benchmark for the brand whereby stakeholders will expect them to abide by it after the crisis. So, make sure that you do not overpromise, in an attempt to be part of the current wave and sentiment. If that is not in line with your corporate identity, the public will see the holes in that very quickly and it will be more damaging for your corporate brand in the longer term.

Second, make sure that the frequency of your communications is balanced. Be sensitive to the fact that everyone is experiencing ‘information overload’. Ensure that you don’t leave your stakeholders in the dark but that you are fact-based and genuine in what you communicate when you do. Different stakeholders will need a different frequency of communication, so don’t feel obliged to have a unified approach with all your stakeholders.

Next, know your stakeholders. More than ever, in such a crisis you need to ensure that you do not leave anyone behind. Map out all your stakeholders: the entities / people that you interact with as a business; and who rely on you for guidance. At the top of this list should be your employees. In crisis, your team becomes the army that defends you or the parasite that kills you (apologies for the pun!!). If your organization does not have the capacity to communicate to all stakeholders, then let your employees be the ones you communicate to. Make sure you understand how they feel, what concerns them and what they need to know. Knowing that will help you tailor relevant content to them, that will keep them informed, engaged and hence motivated to keep working to keep the business afloat.

These are already a lot of elements to juggle, so identify the tools and resources that you have at your disposal that can help make your job quicker, smoother and easier. The tools include your employees (leverage adjacent departments such as marketing and human resources), your agencies for support on content development and monitoring, and most importantly your industry networks. Always remember that “we are all in this together”; and that most probably all the communicators are facing similar challenges and going through a similar peak in the workplace. So, leverage your network, ask for help and don’t shy away from adopting and adapting best practice. 

Finally, your content needs to be carefully crafted and appropriately targeted to your audience. Creating and issuing the ‘right’ content is perhaps one of THE most essential tools for an effective crisis management response. Inappropriate content may be unimpactful or worse, may result in another crisis for the brand. Make sure your brand does not come across as opportunistic or insensitive, as that can damage the brand more than not saying anything at all. Always base your content on facts and only reference reliable resources; in this case, if you are talking / giving advise about COVID-19, only refer to WHO, CDC and other government agencies. You are not an expert on the disease.


  1. Stay true to your Corporate Voice
  2. Communicate in a Timely Manner
  3. Know your stakeholders 
  4. Use your Tools
  5. Content – intentional, authentic and targeted

It’s very important to remember that we are all in this together, and that this too shall pass. As you navigate through this crisis, always have a learning mindset. Make sure that you create space to document the learnings that will drive your approach in the next crisis. Every crisis is a learning opportunity and only when you’ve completed an after-activity review, can you consider the crisis over.

Take time to think of the ‘what next’ – what will we say & do once all this is over. Your narrative during the crisis needs to fit within your regular narrative for post crisis. You will probably find that some of the practices or approaches used during the crisis; you might want to keep post-crisis. And if you were already doing good or supporting certain initiatives or communities, please do not stop. While a crisis creates new communities in need, it does not cancel the need of others.