Throughout the COVID-19 response authorities across Europe and across the world have been learning and adapting to a very modern pandemic. Below we’ve provided 5 short takeaways that outline the core principles to guide your communications approach.
Build trust with every action and every word in your organization – both internally and externally. The current situation is causing a lot of uncertainty and anxiety among epidemiologists, doctors and other healthcare workers in addition to the general public.
Prepare to answer all kinds of questions, and answer them honestly, even if that means saying that you do not have the answer yet. Authorities are often perceived as faceless or impersonal, which is why it is essential to select trusted, reliable and consistent spokespeople. They will face criticism and people will hang on their every word and action.
Plan the messaging clearly, and use visuals whenever you can. Visualisation clarifies complicated information and helps to outline the big picture. Timing is also the key: communicate with your audiences on a regular basis and make an effort to let them know when to expect an update.
Whenever you can, engage your audiences in dialogue, whether digitally or spoken. The role and significance of interaction is emphasised in crisis. Collaborate across the areas of specialisation and country boundaries to find and share best practices, exchange experiences and find solutions together.
Social media can be a double-edged sword due to the spread of fake news and conspiracy theories. However, social media channels can be a useful tool to communicate with the public and help build a dialogue. Be prepared to interact via social media channels as well – if you don’t reply, someone else will.
To ensure consistency externally, remember to actively share information and discuss internally. Internal meetings can provide a valuable arena for new ideas, collaboration and building trust in the organisation. It will support team productivity and well-being, which is needed to find the solutions and answers together.
See how our SHARP JA partners have been responding to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.