Communicators’ inherent knowledge of crisis management has given the communication discipline a leg up on this crisis, especially in guiding the C-suite on messaging and tone, and partnering with HR on employee communications. According to Steve Cody, founder and CEO of Peppercomm, “Our discipline has risen to the occasion. We had it in our DNA from the beginning.”
I recently spoke to Steve from his home in New Jersey and mine in Connecticut to discuss the role of communications leaders during the coronavirus pandemic. Though this crisis has the potential to elevate the profession, it also forces agencies that are tactical in nature to find their footing in crisis counseling and strategic communication.
And it requires all communications leaders to balance positivity with reality, strategy with patience.
Peppercomm’s balanced portfolio of clients from a wide range of industries has afforded it some stability, but Steve doesn’t hesitate to share that he’s taken a “significant pay cut.” Clients in the hardest hit industries (hospitality/travel/tourism, for example) are forcing most agencies to shift their employees to other accounts, if feasible.