By: Jim David, jdavid@hamiltonps.com

COVID-19 has, like all major crises, brought communications to the forefront. We are all receiving a steady stream of virus updates, from all manner of organizations. The need to communicate is real, and there is huge demand for information. But in a universal crisis like this one, it can be difficult to judge the genuine relevance of what your organization has to say.

There are many good reasons to communicate about COVID:

  • Relay status updates or operational changes
  • Explain what you are doing to protect employees and customers
  • Improve access to critical products and services

Organizations that try to leverage the crisis as a commercial or brand opportunity, however, are already facing scrutiny. We are also seeing companies that attempt to showcase specific contributions get pressed on other aspects of their COVID response. There is something to be said for being visible during a crisis, particularly one that imposes social distance. But motivation matters, and sensitivity is paramount.

In preparing any COVID communication, ask yourself three questions:

  1. Do you have a credible voice and something indispensable to relay?
  2. Does your tone reflect the seriousness of the situation?
  3. Are you prepared for broader follow-up questions about your organization’s COVID-19 response?

The adage “never let a crisis go to waste” may be true for politicians, but it’s false wisdom for the private sector in the current environment. This is not a time to aggressively promote business opportunities or tangential agendas. The companies that emerge from this crisis with reputational capital will be those that authentically sought to be part of the solution.