3 principles for messaging during COVID-19

Don’t overshare, but be honest about the difficulties you face. Here are some tips—some of which countermand some classic tenets of crisis management.

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As the global outbreak of coronavirus continues to evolve, companies of all shapes and sizes face a crisis unlike any they have faced before. Yet in spite of the differences between coronavirus and other challenges, many of the fundamental principles of crisis communications still apply.

Keep these key principles in mind as you develop communications amid the outbreak.

Do not over-communicate.

Remember that virtually every other entity—including federal, state and local government officials, school leaders, restaurants, retailers—are communicating with the public during this time. To make the most of your efforts, focus on your key audiences. (For most companies, this will be your employees.)

When communicating with clients or customers, ensure messages are relevant and helpful, rather than adding more noise to an already overwhelming situation. In many cases, updates about what businesses are doing to clean their stores or weather the financial storm are irrelevant to clients or customers. If you feel the need to communicate with those external audiences, make sure you’re doing so in a way that speaks to their unique needs.

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