Communication in a Crisis

COVID-19 brought many challenges for businesses big and small. One of the most important things business owners, employees, and patrons all required was frequent and clear communication. Child Development Center (CDC) approached these challenges and set an example for frequent, professional, and clear messaging during difficult times.

Saxon Daugherty, Communication and Public Relations Specialist at CDC, gave insight into how they handled communication tactics throughout this pandemic.

CDC communicates with three main publics: employees, families, and communities. They span three counties and serve over 2,000 children. Prior to the pandemic, they communicated to these different groups fairly frequently, so they had a strong structure to prepare them for the upcoming crisis. However, like almost all businesses, they were not completely prepared for the challenges of the pandemic.

Times are changing so quickly that we have to communicate with people frequently,” Saxon said. With their structure in place, CDC did not have to reorganize communication channels, but focused more on how and how often to communicate.

Saxon explains how, especially during a crisis, it is important to use many channels to ensure your message reaches those who need to hear it. “We want to meet people where they are so they can get the information,” he said.

For CDC, this means they share their message through their website, social media, email, news sources, and most other areas. As they shared their message, they made sure to explain why certain decisions were made.

While it sometimes is wise to target a specific group, during a crisis using all channels usually proves to be safe and efficient. “We have decided all communication is good. We have been trying to share as much and through as many channels as we can,” Saxon said.

Though there has been a great influx in the amount of communication, the message has been consistent. When asked how this was managed Saxon shared: “Every communication is a reflection of CDC’s mission.”

Making sure to focus on the values and mission of your organization is a key aspect of good organizational communication strategies. Saxon outlined some best practices for when communicating to internal and external publics:

  • Audience: Knowing your audience will help you craft a better message and share it more effectively. For some organizations, like CDC, there may be multiple groups to communicate with, so outline how and what you will share with each. For example, you will talk to your employees differently than your customer. Keep your audience in mind through all phases of communication.
  • Mission and Values: Use your company’s mission statement and values to inform how and what you say. These core messages are the foundation for how you share information, so it is best to keep them in mind and to reflect them in each communication.
  • Consistency: Be consistent in how you communicate and maintain a consistent voice and feel across all of your platforms. Understand your core message to share through all communications. Even if you have more than one person working on your messaging, keep a consistent tone. Consistent timing for when you communicate is also helpful and professional.
  • Inspiration/Modeling: Take note of what other organizations are doing, so you can learn and model communications. Being aware of other similar strategies can help you adapt in a new way. While you should never out right copy another organization’s pattern, collaboration and inspiration can easily be found through observing others work.

Whether your company is big or small these are some of the key attributes to follow as we push forward and shift into new phases of work. As the world continues to adapt to the current situation, preparing your company or organization to communicate well should be a top priority. In times of crisis and in times of normalcy, communicating well sets businesses on a path to success.

This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s July 2020 VenangoWorks! Newsletter

Submit a Comment