How Brands Can Tackle COVID-19 Communications: 3 Expert Tips
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact businesses and organizations across the world, communications teams are rethinking their strategies to cope with a changed – and ever-changing – world.
Alongside the pandemic, communications leaders are also facing an infodemic – or an influx of information about the pandemic that makes it difficult to communicate effectively.
During a recent Zignal Labs virtual town hall, Dr. Joe Smyser, CEO of The Public Good Projects, David Patton, a former WSJ editor and current Senior Director of Content Strategy at Fred Hutch, and Jennifer Granston, Chief Customer Officer at Zignal Labs, discussed how brands can use key learnings from public health communications to refine their communications strategies and help tackle the infodemic.
Verify & Validate
The COVID-19 infodemic has become a breeding ground for disinformation (bad actors seeking to profit in some way from fake news or information), misinformation (well-intentioned sharing of untrue or unhelpful information) and mixed information (credible experts offering contradicting advice), further exacerbating communications challenges.
To help fight the infodemic – and serve as a reliable source of truth – be sure to validate and verify any information you hear – or share. In addition to leveraging common sense, fact-checking and official verification, consider using data-driven solutions to validate information and strategic decisions.
The Public Good Projects and Zignal, for example, have collaborated to develop RCAID, a real-time public health insights service that helps public and private sector organizations manage communications around COVID-19 and support content development in adherence with CDC guidelines.
Become a Trusted Voice
Not every brand has the authority or expertise to directly disseminate or address public health information, but every organization can become a trusted voice for its stakeholders and customers.
In addition to verifying any information they share, brands can become a trusted voice by taking steps as simple as sharing the measures they are taking to deal with the crisis, or providing answers to customer questions about issues related to their business during the pandemic.
For example, during the town hall, panelists discussed how many brands (now heavily reliant on online orders and shopping) haven’t yet addressed best practices around receiving packages.
While many third-party articles and social media posts have rushed to address this issue, direct communication from brands themselves – perhaps even at the point of sale – would provide a level of authority and trust that other sources simply cannot match.
Don’t Neglect Internal Communications
Finally, while external communications are certainly critical for every brand during these uncertain times, it’s important for brands to also enhance their internal communications strategies.
One thing that brands can do is to compile a list of trusted resources for employees to access, utilize and share. This can be as simple as providing a list of local health departments. Other sources could include relevant state authorities and organizations such as the CDC, as well as any internal resources related to HR, advice on what employees affected by COVID-19 should do, and more.
As employees face major disruptions to their typical workflows and an uncertain future, consistent, clear and trusted internal communications can make all the difference – both to employees and overall company wellbeing.
For more insights around communications during uncertain times, watch the full replay of the virtual town hall, “Fighting an Infodemic: Lessons From Public Health Experts,” here.
For more information and resources related to COVID-19, please visit Zignal’s dedicated COVID-19 Response Page, where you’ll find best practices, data-driven analyses and shareable content you can leverage in your response to COVID-19.
You can also register for our next virtual town hall, taking place on Wednesday, April 22nd. The town hall will discuss why both the public and private sectors must tackle the ramifications – and opportunities – created by the new global disinformation and influence competition triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic.