The cascading series of events triggered by the COVID-19 coronavirus has led to what we at Tunheim call a “bunker mentality” within organizations.
Executives are being bombarded so widely, repeatedly and in some cases, excessively, that their heads are on a swivel. The urgent communication coming from every angle is intense and poorly executed. In our collective haste to use an “abundance of caution,” (click here to see why this phrase is annoying the media) some organizations are simply duplicating terrible communication practices that are confusing their most important stakeholders.
We call this a bunker mentality as a result of the urgency that has surfaced in the past week and led to the near collapse of modern communication strategy. In our haste to reach key stakeholders, many are using mass communication tactics that are old and ineffective.
S/O to all the marketers, PR folks & others who normally don't *do* crisis comms but are learning quickly. Also, now is a great time to look at scheduled emails & posts. Brand damage is easy to avoid & reputations are hard to rebuild.— Meg McElhaney (@igobymeg) March 16, 2020
In an effort to break this vicious cycle, here are some important reminders:
- Take a step back and a deep breath
- Take the time to digest what you have learned
- Consider what needs to be communicated
- Consider with whom these messages need to be shared
- Redeploy your communication efforts using all of the tools and support available to you.
Namely, start sending targeted messages to specific groups through the most effective channels where those stakeholders are most likely to see it.
Perhaps the best advice we can share comes from our client Revel Health. Revel built targeted communication strategies and systems that help some of the nation’s largest health plans deliver highly targeted messages using omnichannel strategies. “This crisis is an opportunity to get populations connected around a topic and deliver specific information on the right channel, at the right time, in the right language, with the right social bumpers around what is most important to that particular segment,” says Jeff Fritz, CEO of Revel Health. While Revel Health utilizes levels of advanced analytics that are not part of most organizations’ toolbox, executing against this communication best practice is within every organization’s capability.
This week represents an important opportunity for every organization. Making the decision to communicate with clarity will represent a big step out of the bunker. Once that happens, we will all find it easier to be more strategic as we reacquire our ability to see the horizon and the challenges in our path.
For folks who work in media/PR/content:— Khalil P. Garriott (@khalilgarriott) March 16, 2020
⚫ This ain't the time to revamp your crisis comms plan.
⚫ Do some social listening. This is your audience reacting to the crisis.
⚫ Strive to provide your audience w/ content that keeps them informed, connected & entertained.
Here are a few articles that we consider required reading today.
Another round of government decisions that were unthinkable three weeks ago.
- Trump to Governors on Ventilators: ‘Try Getting It Yourselves’ New York Times
On a conference call with the nation’s governors, President Trump said they should try to get ventilators on their own ahead of an expected crush of coronavirus cases.
- The Epidemic has Upended Life Across the U.S. New York Times
Nations around the world shut their borders and ordered shops and restaurants to close, and people across the United States awoke to the fact that they were not far behind, with the new coronavirus epidemic sweeping into every corner of their lives.
- European Union Plan Shutdown of Nonessential Travel for at Least 30 Days Wall Street Journal
The European Union escalated its battle against the new coronavirus by unveiling a plan to ban nonessential travel into most of the bloc, but EU-wide efforts face dwindling support among members more focused on national welfare.