March 10, 2021

How to communicate well during the transition out of lockdown – external communications edition

How to communicate well during the transition out of lockdown – external communications edition

Following our blog about good internal communication, this blog looks at communication during the transition out of lockdown for external audiences. As we’re all still navigating this pandemic limbo (aka pandembo – it’s a thing now…) businesses should take the time to reassess their external communications strategy. There’s been a huge shift in so many areas of our lives thanks to the pandemic and this time, when we’re all contemplating the future, there is an opportunity to better understand the impact on your external audiences so you can adapt your communications strategy accordingly. So where do you start?

Go back to basics

Revisit your communication campaign plans and dig out your stakeholder mapping, SWOT and PESTLE analysis, messaging systems, style guides and playbooks etc. and critique them – do they need adapting? Go back to basics and think about what you say, when you say it, where you say it, why you’re saying it, who is saying it and who you’re saying it to when communicating with your external stakeholders. PR Daily notes that it’s important to be judicious in how you tell your story.

Practice your purpose

The power of business purpose is nothing new but it matters now more than ever – EY Global highlighted in 2018 that a clear purpose, based on human values – that is authentic and consistent with businesses’ actions – is a foundation stone upon which reputation and performance are built. A business needs to be living its purpose. Now is the time to fully integrate it into your business strategy and supporting communications strategy at every level.

Sense check your spokespeople

Having the right message is one thing but making sure it is communicated by the right person can change how it is received. The 2021 Edelman Trust Barometer found an epidemic of misinformation and mistrust of societal institutions and leaders around the world. The survey showed that spokespeople have lost credibility with trust in CEOs and regular employees declining. Have a range of spokespeople covering different areas of the business who are well briefed and trained up so you can call on them when required.

Listen to your audience

There is a well-known saying about making assumptions…so don’t! Do research and find out how the pandemic has affected your key external stakeholders and the locations, sectors and markets your business operates in. Having a better understanding of the bigger picture will be invaluable for adapting your communications strategy and planning future campaigns. Fortune has looked at 15 ways life has changed since the onset of the COVID pandemic

If you fail to prepare

I’m sure not many businesses outside of the health sector and government had considered a global pandemic as a risk when discussing crisis management before last year but they will now! If there’s anything 2020 and 2021 has demonstrated, it’s the importance of crisis planning and how good external (and internal!) communication is a vital part of the process. It’s not always straightforward – a recent survey by Agility found that getting buy-in for the planning process can be a challenge – but it’s worth putting in the time and effort to be prepared.

For advice on your external communications strategy and adapting it post-pandemic get in touch with the Orchard team today.

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