Communicating in the COVID-19 pandemic is a blend of applying best crisis communications practices and learning as you go. I am working with several organizations serving vulnerable populations, including seniors. It’s the most challenging, heartbreaking and rewarding work of my career.
It’s hard to communicate with people who are worried about their own safety and well-being, or even employees who are afraid of coming to work. Finding the right tone is essential to building trust and understanding. Be mindful that interpretation is clouded by feelings of helplessness and worry.
The best advice is simple: be authentic. Listen to what frontline employees are telling you. Think about the conversations you’re having with clients and frame your messages with their needs in mind. This doesn’t mean your communication is filled with platitudes or empty clichés. Rather, share what you can, be honest about what you don’t know at this time, and tell stakeholders what your next steps will be.
Most of all, acknowledge their fears and frustrations. An authentic tone will strengthen relationships and serve your organization well, both today and in the future.