Communication Challenges in the time of Coronavirus

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic presents challenges to us all. We are collectively struggling to make sense of how the world – and our lives – have transformed in an instant. What we all need more than ever is clear guidance and helpful communication to both inform and advise us.

For this pandemic, both government officials and top health experts must strike a proper balance when it comes to the tone of their messaging. Confidence can be comforting, but the absence of vital information and a lack of certainty is causing disruptions in a plethora of ways.

Communicators are working overtime to help reassure customers and employees who need help in these trying times. From telecommuting policies, announcements of store and factory closures, and safety protocols, the messages continue to flood our inboxes. There is even a LinkedIn group where communicators are sharing resources on what to say, and how to say it.

We have all received emails and alerts about what organizations are doing to participate in the war against coronavirus. Some are helpful, while others have the complete opposite effect and could ultimately do more harm than good. Deciphering the difference can be much more difficult in the fog of the crisis.

Because the situation is rapidly evolving and lots of misinformation is flying around, it is so important for those of us looking for legitimate, sound counsel from a legal, business, and communications perspective to get it from trusted sources.

Here’s an example of how two partner organizations are communicating to their clients. Last summer, Deloitte Legal and the law firm of Epstein Becker Green (EBG Law) established a strategic alliance to comprehensively address workforce management issues with its clients. They also offered an informative webinar to help clients and others navigate the complexities of this crisis.

In the webinar, a panel of experienced attorneys brought a global and best-practice perspective to the following topics:

  • What lessons can employers learn from the experience in China?
  • What restrictions should employers consider as to medical inquiries or quarantine?
  • What is the latest on the legislative framework and temporary measures regarding pay, especially during quarantine, illness, or temporary shutdown?
  • How do employers maintain business continuity during this crisis? What about paid time off and telework? What happens when employees refuse to work because of their concern over contamination risk?

David Matyas, EBG Law’s Managing Shareholder in the Washington, DC office explained that, “in these uncertain times we are proud to help those grappling with how to deal with the various implications of the coronavirus on their businesses and workforce.”

EBG Law has even built a coronavirus resource center to assist those looking for professional guidance. “We are counseling clients and prospects on the changing regulatory landscape and compliance concerns that make operating in this uncertain environment even more challenging” Matyas said.

In advance of communicating company action or policy, leaders must establish both business and legal strategies first. When developing a simultaneous communications strategy, leaders benefit by determining what they want or need to communicate, to whom, and why.

Decisive leaders can inspire confidence in times of uncertainty. By communicating the facts, combined with empathy and a vision for the future, we all will be reassured. How are you balancing the pillars of business, legal, and communications strategy?

 

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