Given the impact of COVID19 on all our lives, it's become clear that alongside key logistics and operational matters, communication is the central issue in the success or failure of the fight against coronavirus.
Here's our guide to Making the Most of Your Media Opportunities, whether digital in-house video for your own channels, or mainstream broadcast.
1. Narrative – what do we want the public to think, feel, or do?
- Pinpointing corporate positioning and prepare key messages in advance (four to five max.)
- Test it from the perspective of the audience - will the messages resonate?
- Have an embedded call to action if you can
2. Be authentic
- Respond authentically. What you say and how you say it should reflect your values as a brand / business
- Acknowledge responsibility, if you need to do so, but stay action focused on what are you doing to address the situation
3. Be factual
- Deal in what you know and use reliable, trusted sources
- And be honest about what you don't know - conjecture does not have a place in crisis communications
4. Ensure heads of comms are at the top table
- Every decision has a comms implication, exploring scenarios up front will help you to identify reputational risks early
- Include your senior comms lead from the 'off', do not make them an operational after-thought
5. Replace your reactive media strategy with a proactive one
- Effectively build trust by being visible and available
- Careful executive positioning can inoculate an organisation against future scrutiny or crisis
- Develop an in-house Digital Newsroom using videography, digital press releases, podcasts, gifs, other visuals and social channels to create interesting, effective messaging tools.
6. Ensure your SLT is media trained so that you have a cast-list of options
- Media enquiries may come thick and fast, having only one spokesperson could limit your opportunities to engage
- Have a range of personalities - the empathetic one, the inspiring one, the hard liner (think John, Paul, George & Ringo!)
- Ensure your spokespeople are credible, expert and confident - media training can help
7. Keep reputation management at the heart of your comms function
- Ensure that you have a Reputation Management Group comprising decision-makers on its board
- Meet regularly to spot risk issues that may affect reputation down the line
- Ensure it has power to act and is not just a ‘talking shop’
8. Listen and respond to feedback from staff, customers and stakeholders
- Monitoring dialogue at all levels is key to understanding where issues lie - establish listening platforms early on
- Feedback from your teams will help you gauge public/media perception and adjust your communications accordingly
- Ensure internal comms can feed back great staff stories to play into your external comms strategy
- Be empathetic and prepared to flex and respond to those important to your business
For more information on engaging and speaking to the media, or creating your own Digital Newsroom during times of crisis, get in touch; firstname.lastname@example.org
[Dave has been a journalist for more than 30 years, was a founder and launch voice of Somerset’s first commercial radio station, Orchard FM in 1989, going on to present and produce programmes at HTV West, BBC Radio 5 and Radio 1, ITV News, and Breakfast TV station, GMTV.
He is the author of the media training bible, 'Handling the Media in Good Times & Bad', published by Rudling House.]