By Kristen Vandaveer Nicholson, APR, Vice President of Public Relations
Over the past three months, the global community has been greatly impacted and life as we know it has evolved rapidly in response to COVID-19. Every industry is being affected. All organizations, no matter how large or small, whether private, public or nonprofit, have been forced to pivot their communications efforts. In times of crises, public relations plays a key role.
Be Adaptable – As storytellers and communicators, we must adapt the narrative in order to be relevant. The environment is changing rapidly. What an organization communicated last week may not be pertinent information in today’s environment. Review your communications plan often and adapt accordingly.
Be In Touch – How is your story relevant in today’s 24-hour news cycle? Be in touch with what news organizations and audiences are discussing in the news and via social media. Yes, events are being canceled. Crowds are being limited to less than 10 people and non-essential businesses are closing. Craft a story that fits, then take advantage of owned, borrowed and earned media channels. People are in need of good stories to share, whether it be on social media or via traditional news outlets. Be a hero. Be a thought leader.
Set the Tone – Your communications tone matters. We’re experiencing unprecedented uncertainty. Messaging should matter to the moment, but not appear too opportunistic, or worse, insensitive. Avoid fear-mongering at all costs. When it comes to messaging, your brand cannot afford to be tone deaf.
Have a plan – Be strategic in your communications efforts. Crisis communications 101 begins with a plan. Think through all of your stakeholders and craft messaging appropriately. Don’t forget internal audiences — your employees can be your biggest asset!
Seek a PRo – When in doubt, hire a PR firm. Your partners at MHP/Team SI have seasoned, accredited PR practitioners who are trained in crisis communications. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when dealing with a crisis. But remember, you’re not in this alone.