Podcast: COVID-19 and internal crisis comms

Thu, Apr 2, '20 •

Podcast: COVID-19 and internal crisis comms

Every Internal Communicator out there is swamped with Corona-comms right now. Where normally we would put our best efforts into employee engagement, creating business alignment and making leadership visible, we’ve now had to throw that script out the window. Crisis communications is taking the front-row seat to our daily activities – and with good reason. Our roles may have never been more important than they are today. We could all use a little help. And help is here.

Meet Evan Nierman, CEO and founder of Red Banyan, two-time Ted Talker and “THE guy” that popular news outlets call when they need expert commentary on public affairs situations. It’s not just his rich career in PR and crisis management that got Evan where he is today. He also has vast experience in Internal Communications, and that’s shaped his outlook on dealing with difficult situations. What you communicate internally, resonates externally – and Evan tackles every situation with this in mind. He has actionable advice for every Internal Communicator dealing with the COVID-19 situation. Watch the podcast or go to your favorite platform. You can also find a full transcript right below!

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher 

 

Jonathan: All right, we are live. Evan, welcome to our podcast. We're so happy to have you here. 

Evan: Well, I'm excited to be here. Thanks so much for inviting me. This is a great opportunity to be with you guys.

Jonathan:  Awesome. So, for those who don't know, Evan is a true celebrity that we have among us for the first time in our podcasts. I first heard about Evan when he did some expert commentary on the entire R Kelly media situation. So it was really interesting. And then we got in touch, and Evan said, hey, I'm a crisis communicator/PR person. I've been that my whole life and also did internal comms. I would love to be in your podcast. So, obviously, I was super hyped because you're the perfect person to be talking to right now when it comes to, so the situation that everybody's dealing with, which is, of course, COVID-19.

So, before we hit that off, Evan, I'm going to give you the chance to introduce yourself. Please. We'll let the audience know who you are.

Internal Communications put to the test

Evan: Okay. It’s great to be with you. I don't know if I'd qualify as a celebrity, but you know what to my kids and my wife, well—Scratch that. To my kids, I probably count as a celebrity. So you're selling it, and I appreciate it, but in all seriousness, it's great to be here with you. As you were mentioning, my career has been one that's been really at the intersection of both internal communications and external communications.

 I spent the first eight years of my career in an internal comms role, where I really cut my teeth and got exposed to a lot of different aspects of internal communication. Message development, how you section your audiences, and to target audiences, develop messaging that goes specifically to them. Then, I pivoted from internal communications, went outside to an external communications role, working as a consultant, doing high stakes, and crisis PR. Then I went back in-house and became an internal communications person again. Ultimately, I left to start Red Banyan nearly 10 years ago. In this capacity, we're a strategic communications firm that has an emphasis on crisis PR, so we ended up working a lot with internal communications people.

Adding to their teams, enhancing their capabilities, working very closely both with the internal comms and marketing teams, as well as the CS, the G-Suite in order to help them navigate complex situations. So that's a quick snapshot of my career trajectories starting in. Going out back in, and here I am out.

And yet every step along the way, the one constant has been a full appreciation and recognition of the vital role that internal communications play within every organization, whether small, medium, or large.

Jonathan: That was actually the coolest thing when we were first talking about your approach is, you know, a lot of PR people will come in when there's a crisis and they will look at the crisis and will look at how to deal with it externally, how the world is reacting. You don't just do that. You take the internal aspect very much into account as well. Right? 

Evan: Yeah. I think that's one of the aspects that a lot of PR people miss, and I think the general public people who aren't communicators. They think when they hear PR, when they hear communications, when they hear strategic communications, first of all, most of them don't even know what that means. So let's start right there. There's an educational aspect that has to happen, but for those who have heard of PR, you are aware that communications are a function within an organization and a vital function. They often go straight to thinking about the external. How are you dealing with the press and even clients? When we're brought into crisis situations, the first thought that they always have is, what are we going to say publicly? How are we going to communicate this with the media? My team and I, in that initial conversation, we remind them, slow down a second. We need to take into account both. The audiences that are external to you, but also internal communications is really vital, and it's vital for so many different reasons. Again, I think a lot of people err on the side of immediately thinking about what they're pushing out. How is the world going to see them? Who are the external audiences? And many times they neglect some of the best research sources that they have available to them, which is the internal communications team.

Jonathan:  Yeah, and I think that's a really important point to mention because it's not even just internal communicators. Just the people within your organizations there, I hate to look at it like this, but let's say they are a channel for your communications. So if they're not aligned with the message that you're going to start putting out that's when problems started happening right. 

Evan: Absolutely. And you know, there are examples of it abound, but the way that I typically talk about it, when I'm sitting with a CEO or with a VP of marketing and communications, they have to think as you wisely pointed out, it's not just the internal communicators who are vital.

Constituency that you need to get in front of and you need to communicate with because obviously, they're there to help disseminate the information and to give guidance and be a resource for their colleagues. But every single individual who's a part of that organization, especially in this day and age, he or she has a vital role to play. Consider for a moment, the line between who’s a reporter and who’s a journalist. And who's a consumer of information. It's been blurred and it's never going to go back to the way that it once was. So everyone has a megaphone, everyone has a Twitter handle, they have a blog, they have a website, they have Facebook, they have Instagram, you name it. They have a way to communicate their perspective. And so the companies that neglect to invest the time and the effort. To turn their employees or, or if not to turn them. Ideally, you're not turning them into anything. You've been cultivating them as brand ambassadors and you've been empowering them.

And if you've done a good job of that, and the people who are there day in, day out working with you are absolutely the best people to go and disseminate your message, to expand exponentially the audiences that will hear your message. And so the companies that ignore the people who they have, they do that, at tremendous risk to themselves.

PR and authenticity

Jonathan: Yeah. And so that's actually interesting because among internal communicators, sometimes I'll be very political in a way that I put this, sometimes there's a perception that PR people really are a little bit too much about just spinning that message - the glitz and the glamour making it sound good. I wouldn't say hiding the truth, but let's say using rhetoric to really build up that story. But obviously when you do those things internally. there aren't a whole lot of cases where that actually worked. So how do you approach that then?

Evan: You raised a good point, which is, you know, for better or for worse, PR people kind of get a bad rap sometimes. There's a number of different terms to describe communicators. None of which are particularly positive spin doctors, which suggests they're spinning the truth. They're not really being truthful. They're just spinning facts. The pressures that come, those are types of terms that communicators often get slapped with. I think it comes from a lot of cynicism in the general public, a feeling that public relations sometimes is considered a dirty word. Public relations is something that's inserted. Rather than authenticity and action, doing the right thing. Public relations become synonymous with how are we going to cover up things that we've done wrong, or how are we going to put a happy face on something that's actually sad, and in some cases, unfortunately, that's true. There are people out there who do give communicators a bad name. And when they put out false information, when they willfully try to mislead reporters, they're not doing the industry or the discipline any real favors. but again there’s an opportunity, especially in a time of crisis, to connect with an audience and to come across as authentic, real, open, honest, and transparent. A lot of times, people talk about not letting a crisis go to waste. Never seizing the moment. I think there's actually a bit of truth to that, although I would even break it down further and say, consider this - 99% of the time communicators are faced with a Herculean task, which is how do I get someone to pay attention? So what I'm saying, and the same is true for marketers, I think of the question a lot of people have many times is - where does marketing end? And where do communications begin? Not all marketing is PR, but I would argue that all PR is a form of marketing. But the point is, during a time of crisis, it's a unique window when even though you can be uncomfortable because you don't want the spotlight on you. You're not looking for all that media interest. It doesn't matter. It's there, you have it. So it actually presents you with a golden opportunity to convey your messages, and people are paying attention. Rather than having to try to fight through all the noise, and kick and claw in order to get your messages out in a crowded marketplace, it actually provides a unique soapbox of where your message could be amplified. People actually care what you have to say, and they're looking to you and the organizations that see that and make the most of it benefit greatly. Those who miss out on that and don't understand that, or they're not prepared or they make missteps, they pay a price. It's infinitely more painful than what they would have if they'd just done it the right way. 

Connecting the unnoticeable dots

Jonathan: I think that it's always interesting to see what happens to companies when a crisis does hit. Especially now, when we have this global coronavirus crisis going on. Decisions that would take months or sometimes even longer to make, suddenly get made in a blink of an eye, where physical presence was a necessity for every company. Suddenly everybody has to work from home. I don't like looking at things like an opportunity because it doesn’t stem from a positive background and it's maybe not a nice way to talk about it, but it is an opportunity. There are things that you can get done in those times, and I think jumping out in the spotlight is a good point. to that degree. There is a large oversaturation. Everybody’s kind of jumping in on it. And I thought that it was interesting to see because companies genuinely want to help others out. But I also believe that too many are saying the same thing. I'm super interested in hearing your take on now that COVID-19 is a reality. We know we're going to be dealing with this for, let’s say another six months or whatever the number will be. What’s your take on that? How would companies jump out of that in terms of messaging and maybe even internally, because I assume that people are already tired of hearing about COVID-19.

Evan: I think there are a lot of companies out there in the world who, if you'd asked them a month or two ago, how important is communications? Would you invest in hiring communicators to be on your team? How important do you think internal communications is? A lot of them, if you'd ask them two months ago, they would have said, I don't really have a need for that. We're a small business. We don't need to do that. That's not really at the top of our agenda. We're much more focused on whether it's their sales and marketing, where we're much more focused on their operations. I think this situation involving COVID-19 has forced nearly every organization in the world to roll out both an external communications strategy and some tactics. If you're like me, you're getting tons of emails every single day from every vendor, every organization, even ones that you have never heard from before. They're reaching out because they feel this pressure to communicate something related to the coronavirus. I think a lot of organizations have discovered that we really need internal comms. We need to send a message to our staff and they have to disseminate this information. Rather than going into the office next door and telling people, or calling a meeting in the conference room, you physically got people separated. So the need to utilize communications techniques to reach the diffuse population. It's come front and center for organizations, so that every organization is having to communicate messages internally, thereby whether they want it or not. They're all now dabbling in internal communications and most are also dabbling in external communications at the same time.

Jonathan: Absolutely. I think that's actually a massive challenge. I just wrote an article about what internal communicators really need to pay attention to. Now with this entire crisis and in my vision, the two most important things are: source checking and making sure that you call the flow of overwhelming information. Channel it and figure out which type of communication goes where and help people out with it because they can't do what they normally did. They kind of walk to the water cooler conversation and ask Johnny from sales, what's up with this project?

They have different communication means. All digital to reach them. So there needs to be some streamlining there when it comes to source checking. How do you feel about that? Like what would you advise companies to do? Because I find that really difficult. If I work in a 10 K employee organization, and I know that everybody's putting out things around COVID-19 and probably no one is a medical expert. How do we even begin?

Evan: It's really hard and it's really overwhelming. It’s funny because I actually had a conversation with my 13-year-old son this morning. He was working on his homework, and it's totally unrelated to communications, but I think it touches on the same theme. He's asking me these questions for his science class about these complicated terms and chromosomes. And he says to me "you don't even know what this is, you can't help me with my homework. Why do I have to know this information?”. What I said to him was, you're right,  I don't know this information, but look, I'm showing you how to get the information by going onto Google and finding it. Your homework is actually really important because you may not need to know all of these complex terms related to genetics, and dominant traits and whatnot. However, it's really vital that you learn how to find the information and how to discern between credible information and things that are on the internet, but that doesn't necessarily make them true. I think the COVID-19 crisis is that situation magnified to a degree that's hard to even comprehend. The amount of misinformation and the spread of misinformation has been very hard. I mean, it's been harder to contain than the virus itself. the next comment I'm gonna make is not intended to be a political one. To know if you're getting good information, especially when sources of information that traditionally are seen as rock-solid, unquestionable, operate with the utmost veracity. If they said it, you can believe it.

That settles it. You know, it's been thoroughly vetted. For instance, you look at the government and you look at government institutions. It wasn't too long ago that the government was very careful in what they put out. And you could rest assured that if you were getting guidance from the government, you know, nine times out of ten, what you were getting was very accurate information.

I think the COVID-19 crisis has overwhelmed the system to an unthinkable degree. There's actually been a tremendous amount of misinformation, misleading information that's come from many sources, including as high up as, the individuals who are in leadership roles in the United States and other countries. So if you're not certain that the information that you're getting, it's current and up to date, and you're considering the source - it makes it very challenging. I think now Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the individuals who's been really heading up the efforts to contain the coronavirus, is in a difficult position because he's trying to educate the public, and I think he's actually done a really fantastic job. He's clearly a brilliant physician, knows the science, knows the medicine, and at the same time, he's out there on the front lines of disseminating information and providing updates to people that they can use and they can apply to their own lives. And you know, it was really fascinating. He gave a quote to a publication just this week where he was asked about how honest, how truthful, how accurate the information is that's coming out of various places, whether it's Congress, the White House. They have these press conferences that are taking place each day, which is the president's coronavirus task force doing a televised press conference. They asked him about the process by which the information gets shared. Again, this is not meant to be a pro-government or anti-government screed or tirade. It's more just talking about the mechanics of what we're facing today, and being very honest about that. Dr. Fauci said look, we have a 90-minute meeting, huddled up in the white house where we synthesize the information. We decide what we're going to disseminate. Someone writes up a speech, we give that speech to the president. President goes in front of the cameras and then he ad-libs. He says things that aren't necessarily in that speech. So the fact that that is the process that's taking place in the daily briefing from the individuals who are meant to be at the epicenter of disseminating accurate, up to date, current information, illustrates for communicators everywhere the challenges that you can face if you're not all reading from the same script, or if in cases like this,  you're not even reading from the script.

Effective and ethical communication during times of change

Jonathan: I think that's a great example in, let's say governments, it's also definitely leadership.

Of course, we're talking to people that know leadership as their C suite or, their management teams, executive committees, etcetera. How would you look at that? What would you say? Hey, here's how you start dealing with this from a company perspective? Because again, that flow of information is massive. I think that you gave a great metaphor between the government and within companies we have our C suite, our executive committees, our management teams, anything like that. Then we also have a whole bunch of people who are communicating bottom up what's happening and throwing their opinion out there.

Now that everyone is a bit more remote, information is a little bit more visible. I'm hoping that not everybody only uses email, which means it's a little bit more searchable, more archived. The life duration is a bit longer, let's put it like that. How would you recommend that companies start dealing with a situation like this and communicating around corona? Like where do you even begin? 

Evan: The key is you have to be selective about what you're pointing out, and you have to strike that fine balance between communicating on an ongoing basis and providing people regular updates. Because think about the psychology of that as well - these are very challenging times. We're in a situation where most people never could have imagined us being in, and people are scared. They're scared about their jobs, they're scared about their health, they're scared about their financial future. They're scared about the stock market. They're scared about so many different things, and you know, a vacuum of information and a vacuum of communication, especially from a trusted resource, such as an employer, that's worrisome. It just feeds into the fear. So, on the one hand, you want to be constantly communicating something, anything to your employees to keep them engaged, to keep them up to date. To let them know important logistical information that we're all struggling with, to make sure we communicate as we move from a face to face communication to largely a disseminated virtual workforce at the same time. You want to be very careful not to just flood them with too much. If you share too much, then people become immune to it. You don't want to provide so much information that people stop paying attention. So it's, it's that fine line and it's hard to know what that needs to be. I think the question of searchability and a paper trail, a virtual paper trail, and electric paper, an electronic paper trail if you will. It's an interesting concept and I think companies need to be really careful. At the same time, you know, they should be erring on the side of being accountable to their employees and being open and transparent. They also do need to be cautious about what they put into their communications because they don't want to be perceived or held to account for doing or saying things that are misleading, inaccurate, or that are insensitive. So for instance, I'll give you a made-up scenario, which I'm going to make up on the spot right now, and then I'll give you a real scenario, both of which would be problematic. 

A made-up scenario would be the CEO sends a note to his internal communications team and says, look, guys, I need your help. Things are rough, but I need you guys to just do everything you can to people to think about something else right now. Let's try to do a lot of things. Let's talk about anything except coronavirus. I'd like to get people focused on something else because layoffs are coming and I don't want to take a lot of questions about layoffs. I don't want people worried about their jobs.  I need you guys to kind of distract them with other things. Let's talk about positive company news.

That's a totally made-up scenario that I just came up with here. And if the suite is communicating that to the internal communications team, that has to be given in some way, whether it's communicated over a zoom call, or it's put into an email or in a Slack channel, etcetera. But there's going to be a paper trail there and electronic paper trail showing, maybe that CEO wasn't acting in very good faith, wasn't being as transparent with the workforce. It may have even been looking to misuse the function of internal communications to do something that was less than a hundred percent honest.

Here's a real scenario that's playing out. I'm doing this call actually from Fort Lauderdale in South Florida, just north of Miami, and the cruise industry has been absolutely shattered by everyone. The thing that's been going on related to COVID-19 and the attorney general here in Florida announced just the other day that they've opened an investigation into one of the cruise lines that's headquartered here. The reason that they're doing it is because there are accusations that the cruise line was willfully misleading customers about the health threats of the coronavirus. So the company itself was disseminating to its employees canned messaging so that when they talk to consumers who are considering canceling their bookings on the cruise, they were telling them things such as, and honestly, you can't make this stuff up: “Oh, the only worry you should really have on your cruise is if you're going to have enough sunscreen with you.” And they've got this all in writing and it's gone out to their workforce. It appeared in internal sources. I didn't think that this was very ethical.

And they took those communications, took them to the media and the media began reporting on them and it became a snowball effect with multiple media outlets reporting on these types of things, basically shining a harsh light on the company. Saying, okay, you knew that this actually was something to be concerned about and a health risk to your customers, but you were more focused on not on avoiding cancellations and putting profits over people. Now they're in a situation where it produced a lot of very negative media attention, which then, in turn, created attention by the authorities who are going to be doing some digging. 

To the point I was making earlier. Yeah. How do you communicate with your team? You're going to have to explain what you did and didn't do at some point down the road.

I suspect, having worked on a lot of matters similar to this, although with details that are slightly different, a lot of what the attorney general is going to kind of focus upon, it's going to be the evidence that may or may not exist of what was being sent internally. So, if there were emails that were sent, which there’s reason to believe, they were because they went to the press. Those emails are going to come out. Those scripts are going to come out. and so again, it speaks to a time of crisis. Organizations are moving at warp speed. They're moving at a speed that most organizations are not accustomed to or prepared to work at. And when you move really, really fast, you increase the likelihood that you're going to make mistakes. 

Press the truth

Jonathan: I think that's a really fascinating point. I hadn't even thought of it because I was thinking, yes, this is an opportunity for quick change to happen. We can finally pursue these things through what we wanted to do for months, and actually there's a reason why things go a little bit slower than we would sometimes want them to be. 

Those extra checks. You don't have time for them now. So that's a really interesting point. I'm also thinking that organizations, I mean clearly from your story just now, it's super crucial that we're transparent and honest. It's a massive cliche to say that, but I don't think we have a choice right now.

Would you recommend organizations not to communicate certain information around the developments of COVID-19 from the outside world? Let’s say they found out that, I don't know. chloroquine's positive effects on COVID-19 is that something that you would say doesn’t communicate that only sticks to the business side of things? How would you approach that then?

Evan: I don't think it depends on the culture of the organization,  but the size of the organization. Smaller companies can afford to be a little bit more liberal, in terms of what they can share, versus massive corporations where you have internal communications that are going out to thousands or tens of thousands of coworkers and colleagues. You have to strike that fine line between sharing information but not overdoing it. I can tell you from personal experience one of the things, we called an all-hands meeting here in our company. We've been talking about coronavirus openly, from day one. One of the things though that I reminded our team about was, look, there's going to be so much news happening and so much information flowing in, we need to be careful.

One information is accurate, even if we're just sharing it internally with one another. Secondarily, at the end of the day, following the news to the minute keeping CNN or Fox or MSNBC, whatever you're watching on your computer, on the television, every day right now during this time can be a real negative. Because the media, there's a famous phrase, if it bleeds, it leads. The media needs clicks. The media needs eyeballs, and how do you do that? You tell dramatic stories and all you need to do is just pick up any newspaper and look at the headlines. There’s a lot of doom and gloom. There's a lot of bad news out there. One of the things I reminded my colleagues, my teammates was that in this day and age, we can't lose sight of the fact that to the extent we can, we have to continue. Going about our day to day lives, albeit with some modification you know, the business. We're about the clients and helping them.

Press the truth and help them tell their stories. If we spend all our time obsessing over this one topic, we can allow ourselves to just become so fixated on it that it almost paralyzes us from doing anything else, and maximizing how we spend our time. So on the one hand, you owe it to yourself, your community and your family to be in the know and well-educated. But on the other side of things, with so much information and so much media saturation around this, you gotta be really careful that you don't just spend your whole day huddled up around the TV waiting for the next dose of bad news. 

Jonathan: That sounds like a very depressing thing to do. And also quite recognizable, especially,, there's this website, where you can check the actual status of Corona infections and this type of stuff. I know some people that have that 24/7, seeing those numbers go up. It really makes me sad. I would understand that. It's not a great idea to keep yourself up to date with that all the time. Actually, mentioning pressing the truth from your Ted Talk. I think that there's actually a really interesting link there. Imagine that there were some organizations at the start of this outbreak that probably had a very vested interest in making sure that their employees kept a distance from each other, would wash their hands. All of the standard precautions that we've been bombarded with these days. How would you recommend that they can get those messages across? Because I know certain organizations where people just want to listen. How would you press that truth? 

Evan: Again, it comes down to the quality of the information and the credibility of the source. People are paying too much attention to the media, which I think is probably a lot of the people that you and I know, because we're in the field of communications and we're absorbing information, we're disseminating information and we're hyper-aware of what's going on in the news cycle. And then, the flip side of that is there've been some images coming out of South Florida in recent weeks of people on spring break. Shoulder to shoulder at the beach. Acting as if everything is just fine and saying, “oh, I'm not going to worry about it. Anything. I'm not going to pay attention to what the experts are warning, this is my spring break and I'm not going to give up on it.”

I think it really comes down to, you know, you have to share with them the information that they need, but if you can, check at the same time what the source of that information is. These are recommendations from the CDC, the centers for disease control. These are coming to you from a credible health organism you know. We've been sending a lot of information to our clients just to keep them in the know, not to over overdo it. Not to terrorize them at the same time, to let them know that we're providing information. Now, one of our biggest clients is the national hospital of the state of Israel, and they've been designated as the principal point place within Israel. They were the first landing area and they set up a whole section of the hospital in order to quarantine the patients, and treat them with telemedicine. One of the things that we did was we had access to great information about how people could protect themselves and best practices.

When we shared that information with our clients, just as a lot of internal communications people are being asked to share information, for us mentioning the fact that this came to us from Sheba medical center. It came from the Doctor himself being the actual source of the information as a way to give it further credibility, I think is really important. Organizations should pay attention to that as they share and disseminate information that relates to coronavirus.

Share with care, post with purpose

Jonathan: This has been super valuable. Thank you for sharing all your wisdom with us.

Before we go, I want to, give you the chance to maybe, if you were to say these are the top three to top five. Of course there are more than three or five things that people need to deal with right now, but if we would have to put down, Evan Nierman of red binders, top recommendations for organizations that are dealing with corona, especially internally now with the crazy remote workforce is the crazy flows of information, what would your top three things be?

Evan: Oh man. You put me on the spot here. Yeah, you're making it tough for me. Take a deep breath. One of the things I asked. don't rush. Take a moment to think about it. I'm going to actually turn to a piece of advice that I gave in another Ted talk that I gave a number of years ago, which I think is critical for internal communicators. And it's true for anyone and everyone who shares any information on social media, or has a phone, or access to a computer, etcetera.

And those are two things. Share with care, and post with purpose. I think those are two of the steps that I would recommend by sharing with care. I mean, think hard about it before you share information. How is it going to be perceived and make sure that you're not giving people information that could frighten them? You're giving them information to empower them. Really think through before you hit click or you send something. Think about the implications and how it's going to be interpreted by your target, and don't rush to post information to disseminate information just for the sake of checking the box. Make sure that you've got a strategic goal behind it. That goal could be, I want to be helpful to my colleagues. I'm going to post this with purpose, and the purpose is to help them maintain their health, to help them. Maybe it’s something that you need to circulate within the company. That's a policy change. as a result of the situation, Host it with purpose. Know what your end goal is before you put out that communication. Otherwise, you're just pushing information out without any sort of strategic thought behind it. 

The other thing is, is as we're talking about our top three or four things, is - be transparent. The honest press the truth. To share information, knowing full well that you're going to have to support and justify what you've put out. It's very important that as you're doing so, you're really thinking to yourself how I want them to see this organization, especially for internal communicators. You know, we want our organization to be perceived in a positive light, and we want to share information that helps people. We do everything that you can to be authentic, to be open, and to be honest. And then the last thing that I would say is, in the defensive realm, is to be very, very careful that you aren't seen as looking to take advantage of the situation. Because this is a time where people are hypersensitive, their antennas are up. They're really looking for support from folks and they want it the legit did it authentic, or as being inauthentic, or that you’re looking to capitalize on a negative situation. Whether that's someone who's gouging on the price of hand sanitizer, or you're doing things trying to turn the situation to your advantage. I think that will leave a really bad taste in a customer's mouth. That's another thing to avoid. And the last piece I would say that's really critical right now is to look beyond the next three days. Look beyond the next three weeks. I look ahead to maybe what's going to end up being the next three months. What you do and how you comport yourself today as an internal communicator and how the organization communicates. Don't just think about what the impact is at this moment in time, but think about how that's going to hold up, how it's going to age. Is that comment that you just posted on the company's page going to age well in three months from now? Will you be proud to have pushed the policy in retrospect. So look beyond. Those are a handful of the things that we're advising our clients right now here at Red Banyan, and that I would encourage internal communicators to both abide by.

Then also, internal communicators, let’s face it, they play a vital role in advising the C-suite within their organizations. Communicators deserve a seat at the table. Now more than ever in a time of crisis. What you say and how you say it is of the utmost importance. 

Jonathan: Absolutely. I couldn't agree more. I heard a comment online where somebody said that in a year from now, jump into a few questions asked by candidates will go as follows, how did you treat your people during the corona outbreak? And I think that that's very telling of  how much care we need to put into the way we communicate, and the information you communicate.

To be honest, everything that you just said, Evan, I want to thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us during our podcast. This was awesome. I hope our audience agrees. 

Please let us know what you thought. You can get in touch with Evan through LinkedIn, and I'm guessing your website www.redbanyan.com.

Evan: That's correct. Or you can hit us up on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etcetera.

Jonathan: All of the channels that turned everybody into journalists. Evan, thank you so much. And yeah, I would love to hear from you again. 

Evan:  This was great, I enjoyed the discussion and I look forward to talking with you again, Jonathan.

Jonathan: Cool. Thanks so much. 

Author:

Jonathan Davies

Date:

Thu, Apr 2, '20

Read more from this author