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Crisis Communications During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything about how we do business. From SMEs to large conglomerates, everyone is facing unprecedented challenges, key of which is how to manage their communications. Communication from leaders can be confusing, delayed, or contradictory, so what can or should we be doing?

Our partners at the China-Africa Tech Initiative and New Markets Media and Intelligence hosted a webinar on how to handle internal and external communications during a crisis.

Here are some of the main takeaways from the panelists: Nkiru Balonwu, Mark Kaigwa, and Gavin Serkin:

BE EARLY:

    – It’s most difficult to want to rip the band-aid off early because you still might be holding out that things will get better, but the truth is they are likely to get worse before better

    – This gives the opportunity to ask for help and involve others

    – Leaders should be totems of authority in times of crisis — leading forward and unafraid to be honest

BE TRANSPARENT:

    – Your own people should always know first, and as directly as possible to reduce any distortion

    – Whatever cuts you do, it should always start from the top.

    – Be creative in what you can retain: paid leave, unpaid leave, partial healthcare, etc.

BE HUMBLE & EMPATHIC:

    – Be helpful: what is your mission, why you’re still focusing on it in the every day, keeping the jobs and economy, or how you’re pivoting to fit people’s needs

    – Explain how and why you’re doing what you’re doing: everyone knows we’re all struggling. Be earnest, empathetic, reasoning the facts in the right way, looking at potential positives.

PREPARE for EVERYTHING:

    – Use a matrix to plot out potential responses to all scenarios, including difficult situations, i.e: A public statement if a business leader contracts the disease

    – When it happens, you should be executing, not strategizing

BE INCLUSIVE BUT BE DECISIVE:

    – Involve your people on what’s happening, such as a slack channel

    – Have a 20 min prep meeting every morning, taking into account most up-to-date information and always be responding

Additional resources:

– For Great global insights and marketing reports: Find a list at www.bit.ly/covidreports

– Business owners looking at what to measure for our industry: https://overcast.fm/+QJ7HSFCtg

– For Agency Owners: https://sakasandcompany.com/cost-cutting-tiers/ , https://sakasandcompany.com/recession-preparation/, https://overcast.fm/+FczUHuQtI

Watch the full webinar on-demand here.

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