Crisis – the New Norm
The features of a crisis: It disrupts; It is intense: It is unpredictable: It is not normal and requires extraordinary measures.
The current crisis is unprecedented and intensity of action, including in my sphere of interest, that of communications, shows no sign of abating. However, as we head into the 4th week of Coronavirus Comms, are our actions becoming more predictable? Although the messaging and communications activity is intense, are we now in a long-term norm? We hear government spokesperson talking about longer-term issues, so it is imperative that we think about communication activity in a sustainable and planned way because if we do not, I would suggest that our actions will start to go pear shaped.
Here are 7 tips to plan for sustainable communications:
1 – Stop! Take time to take a deep breath and think on what has worked and what has not. This is essential – you must do this – it pays dividends for your future action.
2 – Consider phases of communications. 1. Current during lockdown. 2. During relaxed restrictions. 3. During recovery. 4. Not forgetting a plan if the issue returns!
3 – With each phase, develop a power/interest matrix for your priority audiences – you cannot do everything for every audience at the same time. You must prioritise.
4 – Be clear on your comms channels to match these groups. How developed are they? What can you develop that is considered good practice and is not just cool but works? Who does what? What is the resource in the future?
5 – Consider communication themes for each phase. Note that you need to be flexible to change as and when but some themes such as highlighting staff achievement will be a constant.
6 – Prepare a simple plan/strategy but don’t make it a Master’s dissertation – it needs to be something you can easily report back to your crisis management cell and ultimately your Board.
7 – Before you action anything, talk through your plan with the senior crisis leaders. You are the communications expert but they will have the bigger picture and you need to capture their intent. Do not strike out alone. You need senior support.
I hope this is of some use. We are in a new era and we need to think how we can cope without breaking ourselves.