There’s no doubt the 2020 pandemic has disrupted organizations around the globe and fundamentally changed the way we work, and the communications industry is no exception. Following Labor Day and entering the launch of the traditional political season, how do we as organizations reconsider public affairs in this newly distanced and uncertain environment? Here are seven key strategies to consider:
By now, many of us have transitioned to an entirely digital space and recognize that digital communications can provide many of the tools we need. Yet instead of simply moving our work from in-person to online, how can we use this opportunity to reconsider not only when we use these digital tools, but how.
Take the traditional office meetings that transitioned to video conferencing overnight with relative ease. How else can your organization incorporate new video techniques into public affairs strategies? Hosting virtual speaker events, webinars, panels or reporter desk-sides are some ways to rethink the new tools at our fingertips.
Be a resource.
While major changes are happening in the digital landscape, there is no replacing the importance of networks and relationships. While you may not be running into contacts at events or at the Capitol, you can still be a credible, reliable, go-to resource in an entirely digital space. The same rules apply – if you are consistently informed, relevant and consider what stakeholders need when they need it, you will stay top-of-mind.
Focus efforts, expand vision.
In a crowded public discourse filled with short attention spans and generation-defining events, it is important to define your organization’s fundamental priorities and set achievable goals. Focus on simplifying the messaging and plans around this ‘North Star’ and consider how your priorities speak to some of the larger issues of the moment like public health, the economy and racial justice.
Expand your organization’s vision to consider how Grassroots stakeholders, in addition to the Grasstops, can help make progress towards your goals. Instead of only focusing on reaching top-level leaders like governors and legislators, consider how to activate community level influencers and decision-makers to create a powerful groundswell of support.
One of the many lessons of the pandemic is that we are stronger when we work together. Now more than ever is the time to engage your community and networks, identify shared goals and form timely coalitions and partnerships to unite efforts.
Consider the platform.
With mass work-from-home setups, many stakeholders are working on smaller laptop screens and smart phones, so put some consideration into how your emails, digital events and designed materials will be received and viewed. Writing clearly and concisely is as important as ever, and so is communications frequency to keep your information on the ‘front page’ of the inbox.
2020 is not business as usual, and it’s important to acknowledge that fact. It’s true that we are all in this together. Empathy, active listening, understanding and considering the ‘big picture’ in communications is critical to being effective and successful. These are important communications qualities and skills in any era, and especially now.
The truth is, we don’t know how long the pandemic will last or how much more disruption we are in for. While pivoting in the short term, try to anticipate changes and challenges on the horizon and begin to plan accordingly. It’s becoming clear that while some parts of our lives and industries will return to pre-COVID operations, many things have changed forever. Keep track of learnings, opportunities and new ways of thinking and consider what might be useful in whatever the new normal looks like. Taking time for reflection on these experiences will help your organization evolve for whatever is next.