Developing the Right Messages During Times of Crisis
Strong, thought-provoking messaging is always necessary in communications, but during times of crisis, it is imperative that your organization takes extra time to consider your messages’ fit for the situation and how your audiences will perceive them.
Use the following guide to develop messaging and communications in times of crisis. Your clients are in need of support more than ever, and it’s your job to tell them and your supporters that you’re capable of providing it.
Who is your audience?
To develop relevant, impactful messaging, you must first identify your audience. Ask the following:
- Who do you need to reach out to during a crisis?
- Who will yield a response to your message?
- Who will be receptive to it?
Use these questions to develop basic audience personas. Highlight motivations and emotional and practical needs during this time in your personas, and visualize real members of your target audiences as you establish them.
Note: Through this exercise, you will determine what audiences should be excluded during the time as well.
What should your message be today and weeks from now?
There are two words for time in ancient Greek: chronos, which means sequential time, and kairos, which conveys a sense of timeliness. The kairos of a message is important because the events surrounding a message inevitably affect it.
By already understanding your audiences, your organization will be prepared to adequately address how the current realities of a situation will influence the kairos of your message. It will result in creating a strong position with your targets as an organization that can help.
Additionally, your organization must think about the kairos six weeks and three months from now because your audiences’ needs will undoubtedly change. Though we can never truly predict what will happen (a fact we’ve been reminded of by COVID-19), anticipating those needs will help you be proactive in your messaging.
How can you insert your brand’s voice into your message?
As you construct and refine your messages, don’t ignore your brand communications standards. Your audiences expect your familiar tone and voice while paying attention to the contents of your messaging.
If your organization does not use a voice guide, here’s a template to start one.
What are some communication opportunities?
Most likely you have the communications channels in mind you’ll use to distribute your messages. However, there are opportunities within your communications that can strengthen your messaging and further address the moment at hand.
Showcase unity with like-minded organizations.
During a crisis, it’s natural for organizations to develop thoughts of resource scarcity. This mentality often leads to developing competitive tactics and misguided attempts to speak over one another. However, there’s a huge opportunity in times of crisis for organizations to lift each other up and become allies. By doing this, your voice will become stronger, louder and more impactful. There will be ample resources during crisis, but they will be reserved for organizations that think strategically about ways to affect better solutions. Organizations that come together can uncover better solutions faster.
Include other information and news in communications as needed.
It’s important to pace your communications and attempt to communicate to constituents in a consolidated way during times of crisis. People are overwhelmed during uncertainty and have other worries beyond your mission. So, use your communications tactics to share other important information and news as long as it doesn’t distract from your crisis messaging.