While the world has battled through the coronavirus pandemic, one running theme has been an alarming lack of clarity from leaders for the most part. Whether wondering if you should go to work, questioning if a coffee classifies as a picnic or debating the size of a scotch egg, the inconsistent and blurred messaging has at times dominated the media agenda more than news about the virus itself.
Mixed messages and a failure to practise what is being preached has been the order of the day – well, year – and whether trips to Barnard Castle, jumping on a train to travel the length of the country after a positive COVID-19 test or U-turns on free school meals, public confidence has drained as a result.
Research in December found that seven out of 10 people believe that the government’s response to the COVID-19 crisis has been confused and inconsistent, with more than half saying that its handling of the situation has been a national humiliation.
Consistent, clear, understandable information is what people look for in a crisis situation and when times get hard, we look to leaders for guidance, comfort and a direction out of the strife. Right now, however, that isn’t solely from those in Westminster or other public office.
Individuals have increasingly been turning to businesses – whether customers or employees – for guidance over the past year and while organisations have clearly been faced with challenging circumstances that they have had to adapt to, they have also been presented with an opportunity to stand up and be counted at a time when faith is diminishing elsewhere.
If you know what your strengths are as an organisation, what your brand’s values are and have identified your goals, it is significantly easier to prepare for sudden changes and stand out from the crowd. Businesses must respond quickly and communicate effectively to employees, shareholders, customers and peers to build confidence and reap the rewards of positive long-term effects on brand loyalty.
Critically, however, brands must be consistent to their values and authentic in their approach and this is where communications strategies often fall apart. With trust at a premium, you can’t afford to take a misstep.
Businesses have understandably been keen to show empathy and generosity over the past year and while this seems like an obvious strategy for success, it is only effective if these actions are true to who you are as an organisation.
Simply getting behind causes which seemingly have little controversy associated to them may look like a simple PR win but the reality is, it has to be credible. Platitudes just won’t cut it and what can seem like an innocent social media post or blog article can quickly backfire if your own house isn’t in order. For example, throwing your weight behind Pride on social media may be a good look, but if your commitment to diversity and inclusion goes no further, there’s a good chance you’ll get found out – and called out.
So, consider the three Cs when communicating this year – by building a strategy around clarity, consistency and credibility. 2021 doesn’t have to be a hangover year from the year before.
If you need support developing your identity and reaching the right people with the right messages, get in touch today to discuss how we can help you.