In times of global uncertainty, like the one currently caused by the COVID-19 outbreak,  maintaining consistent and strategic communications is key – but can be difficult to accomplish. Communications playbooks – even those specifically developed for crisis communications – don’t always address situations like the one we’re in now, leaving communicators unsure how to proceed.

What’s more, our age of interconnectedness and hyper-globalization has made it easier than ever to communicate, but it’s also made it more difficult to break through the noise and communicate in a way that’s both meaningful and impactful.

During uncertain times like these, it’s important to communicate in a way that is clear, direct, and accurate – a reassuring combination for anyone overwhelmed by rapidly changing circumstances, an onslaught of information, and a lack of clarity about what the future holds.

Here are seven recommendations for communicating during times of uncertainty: 

  1. Prioritize authenticity. People are smart. If you release a slap-dash statement just to join the conversation, your lack of effort could be seen as a tone-deaf promotional effort. Start with an intentional, empathetic approach and you’ll find an authentic communications strategy.
  2. Be helpful. Have resources on hand that can help during uncertain times? Compile those resources on a dedicated page on your website, and then make those resources readily available through different channels (social media, newsletters, etc.).
  3. Lead from the top. In times of uncertainty, it’s human nature to look to global leaders – both in the public and private sector – for guidance. Send a letter on behalf of your CEO to your customers – and wider community – that provides reassurance for the current situation, reaffirms your commitment to working together, and outlines clear next steps. 
  4. Leverage data. If there’s anything that’s certain during uncertain times, it’s that the global conversation will be massive and highly-dynamic. Leveraging real-time data analytics can help you better interpret the global conversation, determine the accuracy of information, and develop the best communications platform.
  5. Partner up. We’re stronger together. Where it makes sense, establish and leverage strategic partnerships – with your customers, other organizations, and beyond – to help widen the impact and scope of your communications. 
  6. Follow through. Empty promises are especially apparent during times of crisis or uncertainty. Be sure to follow through on any commitments you may make in your internal and external communications. 
  7. Stay nimble. Things can change on a dime during periods of uncertainty. A communications strategy that worked yesterday may not work today. Stay nimble and adjust the tone, content and frequency of your communications as needed.

Want more resources to help you understand and navigate the current COVID-19 outbreak, and what it means for your life and work? 

Visit the COVID-19 section of our Resources page, and stay tuned for additional coverage on the far-reaching impacts of COVID-19. We’re monitoring the situation in real time and will be providing data-driven updates, insights and analyses on an ongoing basis.