Communications Advice

COVID-19

Hughes is currently supporting a number of organisations with their COVID-19 communications response.

In what is an extremely fluid situation, communications is one area where you can retain control and ensure staff and stakeholders remain informed and reassured.

To assist our clients and wider network, our crisis communications team have prepared some guidance on managing communications linked to COVID-19. We’ve shared this below.

If you require tailored, specific support from Hughes and would like to discuss your organisation’s communications response,
please call our team on 08 8412 4100.

Communicating your response to COVID-19

First and foremost - internal communications

Clarity
What is the best way to communicate consistently with all employees?  Set up a COVID-19 communications channel with employees and make them aware of how and when to expect critical updates.

Empathy
Lead your communications by making your team wellbeing and safety your first concern. Be honest and upfront with staff about the implications any company action will have on them.

Openness
Ensure two-way communication. Make sure all staff are given an opportunity to raise COVID-19 concerns or enquiries and outline how and who they should contact.

Consistency
Finally, make sure staff remain informed. All businesses will have different levels of need but in any circumstance, staff should be given regular updates. This will not only keep them informed but will also offer them reassurance that their wellbeing is not being forgotten.


Reassure your market. Demonstrate you have a plan.

Targeted 
Who needs to hear from you? Before issuing any communications, take a step back and reassess your stakeholders. Is it purely clients or customers who will want to hear from you, or is it regulators, government agencies or the media as well? Prioritise your audiences and assess how and when they need to be engaged.

Brief
No business is expected to know all the answers to COVID-19. But there is an expectation that organisations should acknowledge the issue and confirm they have a contingency plan in place. Any communication you share with external audiences should focus purely on facts you are qualified to speak on, and which are relevant to your organisation and stakeholders. Do not offer speculation or opinion on the crisis more widely.


Remain in control.

Reason
Form a small internal team to assess the ongoing situation and establish a routine whereby the group can make decisions on ongoing communication action. Do not react immediately to external issues or inquiries, instead step back and consult as a group before responding.

Consistency
Ensure any communication you make is consistent with previous messages and actions. As we have said, the situation is fluid and your communications will evolve. But your communications should remain as consistent as possible and focus on facts and not speculation.

Responsiveness
Finally, keep tabs on social and mainstream media for COVID-19 issues relevant to your organisation. Create regular tabs for key information channels and, if appropriate, speak to your media monitoring and social media listening provider to tweak your monitoring criteria to account for COVID-19.