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Coronavirus Communication Recs

Although we wish this blog post was about anything else, we’ve gotten a number of questions from clients on how to communicate about COVID-19 concerns. We hear you, and we’re here to help!

We’ve put together a few tips to make this difficult situation a bit easier to address within your community.

Be in touch. During times like these, your followers want to hear from you. It is better to get in front of a question or specific concern with an email and social media post, versus ignoring it or waiting to see how things develop. Even if an event cancellation decision hasn’t been made, we recommend sharing a message to let folks know you are in the process of making a decision and when they can expect to know more. Check out this example (featuring a video and quality subtitles) from NTEN.

Provide a point of contact. Don’t try to answer all questions in your mass communications. Instead, provide a single point of contact along with an email address and phone number where community members can send concerns or specific questions.

Be consistent. Make sure the messages shared on your website are consistent with those you send over email or post on social media. Consider creating a page on your website with updates, like this one from The Episcopal Diocese of Olympia, which can be updated regularly. Link to that in social media posts and emails.

Consider a digital alternative. If an event is canceled or a facility closed, consider hosting a video conference your constituents can attend from home (we know this is only a viable option for some organizations, and that online learning takes care and planning). Remember to request a name and email address in advance, so you can properly follow-up with a thank you after your virtual event.

Think about tone. No need to be overly formal — but do be direct, to the point, and empathetic. Here’s a great tone example from The Lane’s recent email:

We usually like to keep it pretty upbeat and fun around here, but the health and safety of our families is serious business. It doesn’t just matter in this current news cycle, either.

We’ve also seen some really fabulous hand washing memes from clients that add a bit of proactive levity to an otherwise scary time. (Make your own at washyourlyrics.com.)

Remember best practices. Don’t forget everyday best practices—like keeping emails mobile friendly and using image descriptions—to ensure your content is easy to digest. This is also a great time to use text messaging to communicate last minute updates to your followers. And if you don’t have a text program, consider using this as an opportunity to put a plan in place and start one.

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