What’s here to stay and what’s going to change after a global pandemic?
Though so much changed over the past year with changing priorities and news, government agencies couldn’t stop work on ongoing and planned programs. Covid-19 added significant work to everyone’s plates and created countless new messages every day. Since different rules, regulations and information applied to diverse stakeholder groups, it was absolutely critical to conduct targeted outreach that yielded results.
What’s here to stay?
Special attention to sensitive and authentic communications. More people than ever were paying attention to the news, so it was vital to have a pulse on changing information. Since emotions were running high and tragedy was commonplace, government agencies and other organizations learned quickly to be extra cautious with wording, terminology and showing empathy, even with difficult messages.
Good bye conference calls. We’ve seen how sheltering in place has affected people’s emotions. Most groups started using video calls rather than voice-only calls for team meetings and external outreach which helped put a person behind a voice. Seeing people in their homes helped strengthen relationships in a more human way (think pet dogs and cats, interesting artwork, etc.). Since video conferencing software has become so robust and easy to use and we can quickly screen share information, they won’t want to return to the status quo.
What’s going to change?
Plan for virtual and in-person meetings. Social meetings, public workshops and outreach events were the bread and butter of building connections prior to social distancing. Now that digital outreach and virtual meetings are the norm, people are hungry for in-person contact and public input. Communicators will weigh the pros and cons of virtual vs. in-person meetings and determine if it’s more effective to have people join from their device wherever they are or have face-to-face interaction and public input sessions.
Community partnerships will strengthen and grow. Although collaboration with CBOs and nonprofits isn’t new, it became paramount to partner with trusted organizations to share Covid-19 information with their members. Organizations will expand partnerships to other programs beyond pandemic news and include them in program development, outreach and evaluation.
Good news! Internal and outsourced communications will increase. Professional communicators were the lynchpin to sharing unbiased, factual and accessible information throughout Covid-19. If it was important to achieve results before, it became critical when communicating testing, vaccine and sheltering information. Organizations will need to revise their communications plans to incorporate activities like webinars, partnerships and podcasts and ensure they have experts to develop and implement them.