Over the past several days, The DeBerry Group has worked with organizations throughout Texas to draft communications to address the rapidly-evolving novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. We have compiled information and tips that serve as helpful guidelines for organizations crafting communications for both internal and external audiences.
Communicate regularly. In times of uncertainty, providing your community with regular updates can be both comforting and reassuring. In extended or evolving situations, developing a regular cadence for updates allows your community to know when they can expect to hear from you.
Start internally. Your internal audience should always be one of your primary audiences; communicate with them before anyone else. In many organizations, internal staff are frontline employees who interface directly with your external audiences. They need to know the precautions that are being taken not only for themselves, but so that they can answer questions and help to reassure customers and community members as well. Your internal communications should include much of the same information as external communications, but should also address staff-specific issues which may include health benefits, leave policy information, etc.
Detail what your organization is doing to help minimize the spread of the virus. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides detailed guidance on cleaning and disinfection recommendations for a variety of organizations and events. Enhanced cleaning and social distancing measures should also be shared out via signage around your business or facility – both in behind-the-scenes and in public-facing areas.
Provide an update on scheduled events and activities. If you host public events and activities – provide information on how those activities may be affected. If you are waiting to see how things progress before deciding, say that while providing information on when you plan to make a decision and where people can find more information.
Share prevention tips and link to resources. There are a variety of resources available to assist community members in navigating this difficult situation, many of which are linked below. Ensure all your communications reinforce themes of openness and understanding by providing a contact for questions and more information. Questions about COVID-19 that are not specific to your organization can be directed the hotline established by San Antonio Metropolitan Health District at 210-207-5779. The hotline is available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. in English and Spanish.
Keep it authentic and sincere. With a lot of uncertainty surrounding the situation and what impact it will have on our city, our state, and our nation, it is important that the tone of your communications is sincere, reassuring, and remains authentic to your brand or organization. Avoid being flippant.
Stay strategic. Do not let the urgent nature of this situation throw you off your strategy and give way to ad hoc marketing and outreach tactics. Keep it thoughtful and relevant. The impacts that this situation will ultimately have are still unknown, so now is the time to focus on providing your community with the factual information they need about what is happening right now. Then, over the course of the next week, go back to your strategy and reevaluate how you might adjust to accommodate the current situation. Stay tuned for a more in-depth blog addressing this specific topic next week.
As an agency we are focused on taking care of our team and our clients, providing up-to-the-moment guidance so they can keep their families, staff, customers, and communities safe and informed. As a small business, we understand the impacts of this situation are not only being felt physically, but emotionally and financially. We will continue to provide real-time guidance that we hope will assist other organizations in navigating this challenging situation.
Examples that you can reference when crafting communications for both internal and external audiences: