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Coronavirus and the Communications Equation

This article, authored by our Senior Advisor John Clemons, continues a special series titled “Creating Resiliency During the COVID-19 Crisis.” 

This series will feature articles, podcasts and additional resources from our Consultants Collective member consultants, advisors and coaches, whose experience and expertise includes risk and change management, Asia, China, offshoring, leading distributed global teams, managing crises and internal communications, deploying and managing online collaboration tools that enable people to work together virtually, developing new models, as well as expertise in innovation and design-thinking, work-life integration — and more — all of which uniquely positions Consultants Collective to serve its clients during this time. We hope this series is a valuable resource to you and your organization as you tackle the challenges presented by this global public health crisis. If we can provide additional help and support through our executive consulting, advisory and coaching services, please contact us.

I consider you part of our United family and your safety remains our highest priority.

This is how United Airlines began its letter to me, its valued customer, as it relates to the emerging COVID-19 coronavirus crisis. This customer message is a part of the communications equation as companies put together crisis communications plans.

While the employee communications function has an incredible opportunity to make a difference during this crisis, it is one area of communications that needs to be tied into the other critical communications functions – marketing, special events, corporate social responsibility, etc.

By working together, holistically, the messages that are sent to key audiences are timely, helpful and most importantly, consistent. Without consistency in communications during a crisis, three things can happen with employees:

  • Difficulty focusing on the business
  • Rumors that are hard to ignore, and
  • Increased anxiety

The good news, as my Consultants Collective colleagues have already stated, is to ensure that a dynamic crisis team is pulled together; that the team is working together on internal and external messaging, using all available tools and technology.

During this crisis, it is so important that employees not only take care of themselves but also the customers that rely on companies’ products and services. Staying focused on the business is paramount.

With leadership and management in control and by continuing to over-communicate with information to key audiences as it becomes available, businesses can and will continue to thrive.

If we can provide additional help and support towards your coronavirus crisis plan through our executive consulting, advisory and coaching services, please contact us.

John Clemons

John Clemons is a senior advisor for Consultants Collective. John has built his professional credibility, reputation and experience through a wide range of award-winning, strategic employee communications and engagement programs. A former journalist and magazine editor, John has worked in management and as an executive for a number of Fortune 500 companies including AT&T, Marriott International, Raytheon Company and Walmart. His nonprofit experience includes serving as Interim Executive Director of the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and Vice President of Communications at The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. Clemons is the founder and principal consultant of Clemons Communications which provides unboxed communication solutions to meet clients’ communication needs and challenges. Among his clients have been AARP, Diversey, America Online and several small businesses. John has won numerous awards for internal communications programs and creative projects from the IABC, Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Women in Communications. Clemons served as Chairman of the IABC International Executive Board from 2001 – 2002. He is professionally accredited with IABC and PRSA. In 2012, he was named an IABC Fellow, recognizing his many contributions to the communications profession. Clemons received his Bachelor’s degree in news journalism and Master’s degree in communications management from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

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