Communicating During COVID-19

How your organization can rise above the noise.

I recently participated in a panel called, “Above the Noise: How to communicate with your customers during COVID,” as part of the Business Unusual conference hosted by Clique Studios and BigMarker. Below are some key takeaways from the discussion about what business can do to stand out in a crowded landscape:

Address Challenges with Creativity

All businesses have been impacted by COVID-19, and nonprofits have been hit especially hard, as many of the programs that sustain their business model have been put on hold, postponed, or cancelled. One client, Cradles to Crayons Chicago, typically relies on donated items and volunteer time, and has since pivoted their emphasis to partnerships so they can continue to serve their communities. This effort is on top of their recently-established emergency fund, helping them stand out from a crowded donation space. They even got some media attention in the process!

 Add Value to the Conversation

Whenever you consider communicating externally, you should think about what your goal for that communication is – who needs to hear it, and what is your call to action for what you want them to do? How does your company play a unique part in the overall conversation?

Our client CAF America saw the opportunity to showcase their thought leadership – they sent out a survey to partner charities around the globe to learn how giving is impacted by the pandemic, and shared the results in a webinar, along with other resources reaching their clients, industry peers, and media.

Adjust Your Goals Accordingly

As we adjust to the new normal, it can be tempting to react quickly and put all your organizational goals on hold, but don’t fall into that trap. Instead, respond to the situation at hand by adjusting strategies to reach those goals, and be realistic about the measurable objectives to determine success.

Take Calculated Risks, Authentically

As businesses adjust, it can be an exciting time of creative problem solving and risks you might not have been willing to take under regular circumstances. However, it’s important in everything you do to remain true to your company’s values. If the risk, message, or other action strays from your mission, it’s likely only going to throw you off course.

If You Don’t Have Anything New to Say, Plan for Your Future Instead

Not every business needs to add to the conversation right now, and in many cases, it may be better not to. Beyond sharing information about closures, virtual offerings, and engaging content on social media, it may not make sense to continue regular external communications at this time. Your time may be better spent instead planning for the eventual return to work, which will not be business as usual, either. Can you dust off your organization’s strategic plan? Refresh your messaging? Update your lists? Assess your digital channels in an audit? Plan now to emerge even stronger in the future.