Communicate effectively during pandemic to earn trust, ease fear and connect

In the absence of information, people often assume the worst. It’s human nature. While we don’t know how long the global COVID-19 pandemic will continue, or what the prolonged effect may be on our health, the economy or our community, there are things we do know. 

For example, as PR professionals, we know we’re committed to helping protect the health and safety of our team members, our loved ones and our communities. We know we will convey facts and relevant information as clearly, quickly and frequently as possible and as needed. We know our commitment to upholding PRSA ethics and our crisis communications leadership. And we know we will take responsible actions to help the target audiences we serve.

So, what can you do as a communicator to help connect with your target audiences during the pandemic? 

Focus on what you know and what you can tell your audiences to help inform and reassure them in these unprecedented times. Be human. Be kind. Be positive. Be proactive. And be professional.

As you communicate through these dynamic conditions, try these strategies.

  • Anticipate questions your target audiences may have and proactively weave those answers into your messaging.
  • Consider the best ways and channels to reach your targets as more people work remotely during the pandemic and are unable to gather in person.
  • Consider how you can better use technology to connect people. The longer the pandemic keeps us apart, the more people long to stay connected. Technology gives us the opportunity to keep that connection going and communication flowing.

Think in terms of putting people first and maintaining safety. Put the interests of the health and safety of people ahead of property. After all, property can be replaced. People can’t.

Think about your key messages. Are they still relevant and appropriate in the pandemic? If not, consider how to revise messaging to convey what your organization stands for, the value you add through serving your customers and your community. Weave those into your communications as appropriate.

PRSA will continue our commitment to communicate to you as members through this pandemic. COVID-19 has already changed the way we live our lives and do business in so many ways. It’s also helped us focus on what’s most important to us as it eliminated some of the distracting noise from our lives and schedules.

Your Central Iowa PRSA Chapter is here to help you weather the storm, as is our national organization. PRSA offers a variety of crisis communications resources to members at: https://www.prsa.org/about/crisis-communications-resources.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers COVID-19 resources to help inform your communications and your business. Check them out at: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/index.html.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) also provides coronavirus workplace guidance at: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/.

For small businesses dealing with the economic fallout from the pandemic, check out resources from the U.S. Small Business Administration at: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources.

We encourage you to check out these resources as you communicate through one of the biggest challenges in our lives. So, c’mon. Dig in. You’re up to the challenge. You’re a trained, dedicated PR professional as a member of PRSA.

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