We’ve heard the catchphrases – new normal, unprecedented times, Zoom fatigue, and more – on repeat over the last few months.
But beyond how this pandemic has virtually changed our world in just about every way, how will it continue to impact us, in terms of our one of our core functions as PR practitioners – communication?
Communicating with compassion and empathy
Like many others, I too have stepped back and read and reread an email, press release, social media posting, or other messaging to make sure it comes across authentically, shows compassion, and above all, is not tone-deaf to the crisis affecting us all.
It’s no longer about how consistent your news cycle is, how many press releases you can get out the door, or maintaining a steady stream of social media postings for your company (or client).
It’s about purposeful, intent-driven communication that ties back, if possible, to our current environment. It is less about ‘business as usual’ and more about being sensitive to what we are putting out there in a public forum.
Exploring new mediums in an all-digital world
For many companies, working remotely will remain in place through most of (if not all) 2020. This includes travel, where many companies will have very strict guidelines in place on business travel. What does this mean? How can we think differently about how we communicate? What mediums should we consider for our companies and/or clients? With more opportunity to storytell and inform our customers, partners, and ecosystem, an all-digital world means more mediums in which to spread the word.
From virtual events to live-streaming, to chats on various social media platforms. I’ve even seen some businesses driving attention to new video communications or updates on YouTube to tune in to the chat when the video debuts, to communicate live with the business. That’s a platform I would not have typically considered for communicating in real-time. And, with more availability from your executive team who are not traveling (but busy all the same!), there is an opportunity to put them front and center live on digital platforms we may not have had the opportunity for in the past.
No more one-size-fits-all communication
The COVID-19 pandemic has made clear that personal, 1:1 communication is more meaningful and impactful than ever before. Personally, I’ve had more conversations with colleagues, executives, customers, and partners that have felt more engaging and authentic than before COVID-19. We stop and ask how the other is doing. We have a few minutes of non-work-related chatter. It’s less transactional and more personal.
This goes for external communications as well. The stories we shape tend to focus more on management and communication tactics during a pandemic and how we are helping our customers and our fellow associates get through this crisis together. It’s about sharing the stories that will resonate with the everyday person, and not always the buyer personas or C-suite. It’s humanizing what our companies do, and how we work together to accomplish success.
Above all, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought humanity back to communication and given us all a chance to pause and rethink how and why we communicate the message and in what mediums to deliver that message. It’s made us take the time to connect – and reconnect – with each other and find common threads that foster relationships, which is even more important when we are all-digital for the foreseeable future.
By Jolene Peixoto, Vice President, Corporate Communications at Blue Yonder