Communicating In Crisis

Written by Mathieu Yuill

April 06, 2020

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s difficult to know how to communicate with your audience. This week we’re looking at how to do that and today we begin with understanding how to pivot your message.


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Good day and welcome to the Leading With Nice Daily, my name is Mathieu Yuill and this week we’re talking about communicating in times of crisis. The first thing I want to talk about is now is actually the time to be pivoting your messaging. So whatever has been working for you the past one, two, three, eight, 10 years, it’s time to change that. So your messaging needs to move from the problem you were solving before, longterm over and over to how you can solve people’s problems right now. So for example, I’ve heard a story of a florist who typically you’re probably hearing about a lot of florists that are shutting down this Flores pivot or their message from, you know, funerals, weddings, birthdays, et cetera, to use flowers as a way to connect and reach out and touch somebody. Because what people want now is connection. They want to touch, they want to do something that makes them feel still connected and they pivoted their message to allow flowers to be that way.

And that’s what we talking about this week is how you pivot your message to solve a need today. Now I want to talk to you about communicating with empathy and authority and what that looks like is this. You need to position yourself as the guide in your customer’s journey. They’re looking to you for answers right now. You may not understand why, but that’s why they’ve decided to interact with you, to come to your website, give you a call, check you out, and the way you’re going to help them through their journey is by showing that you have empathy. You understand their problem, you understand what’s happening in the world right now. You get how they are stressed out and you’re also going to communicate with authority. So you are going to position yourself that you have the answer. This is why I can do what you need from me.

This is why can deliver what you need right now because I have all this experience, I have all this training, I’ve done it, I studied, I understand. Now if you do too much empathy, you look weak like you are afraid along with them and if you do too much authority, you looked arrogant. So a good combination of both is what you’re after. What that might look like is a summer camp saying, we understand that you are afraid right now and think summer camp might be canceled. Now we have a solution for that over here, but we’ve had a health committee on standby for the entire time. We’ve been open since day one. They include these great doctors and we are doing everything to make sure camp is healthy and safe. Now today we want to look at when to be helpful in when to lead.

Now really those can both be the same thing. Leadership can be helpful, helpfulness can be leadership, but where do you lean on one more than the other. Really is a two pronged approach and the first thing you want to be thinking about with healthfulness is if customers aren’t ready to buy what you’re selling, how can you be helpful to them? How maybe they’re a current customer? Can you tell them how they can make a better use of your product or service that they have right now? Can you tell them how they can be most efficient with it? Can you tell them how, even if it’s not useful right now, what they can do to preserve it or, or take care of it, to make sure that it is useful into the future so that we’re back to normal, It won’t be wasted money. And how you can you be a leader, how can you show them that actually engaging in, in purchasing or buying something from you right now will be useful to them right now.

And I’m not talking about manipulating or exploiting people’s fears, not at all. In fact, that’s quite distasteful. And you will be found out pretty quickly these days if you decide to take that strategy. But what can you do that is going to be of a leadership mindset or voice where you are showing people the right way forward and one that might include your product. So I’m thinking about, for example, consulting. So I know there’s a lot of consultants that may not be able to do training or workshops at organizations right now, but they’re doing a lot of meetings on zoom and Skype to talk to their clients about, okay, let’s create a plan for when things are back to normal. So they’re not billing right now, they’re not on assembly booking sessions, but they are helping their clients position themselves to use them when they return.

So how often do you want to be communicating? Well, there’s two places you want to communicate. One is internal and one is external. So those partners of yours that are either employees of your companies or work closely with you, you want to have a very regular communication plan. Maybe weekly, maybe even hourly, depending on how intense your organization is. I was speaking to somebody who works at a grocery store and the supply chain management people are literally speaking at the leadership level every hour. They’re like, Hey, what is happening? What’s going on? Where are the trucks? What is on those trucks? How are they delivering? They have strong supply chain management at grocery stores here in Canada. At least however they want to say on top of it of course because it’s a different time than normal with your customers, your audience, you definitely want to be communicating at least weekly.

I wouldn’t go more than weekly unless there is an urgent matter for that. So for example the government has announced something that directly impacts your relationship with them or impacts your ability to do business like when they shut down different stores. You might want to communicate that that has happened and how you will scare them going forward but at least weekly and you want to be communicating with empathy and authority and you want it to be both helpful and a leader. Now we have a webinar that we did on Wednesday, April 8th, 2020 on this exact topic. Visit and sign up for our email newsletter to get access to that replay and we’re going to talk about planning for now and planning for the future with your communication strategy. If for the past number of years you have been relying solely on word of mouth and have not been collecting email addresses, now is the time to start.

If you are a local business, you need to create some reason why people would give you their email address. So for example, if you’re a convenience store, have a signup list in your convenience store where you will email out weekly a special that you have if you are a local home store, collect email addresses and tell them when you have new items coming in. If you’re relying just on social media and word of mouth, the plan there, the risk there is that you don’t own those platforms. You don’t own social media and word of mouth you have a hard time controlling email and your own website are the only things you truly own and can control. However, if you’ve been building an email list for the past two or three years and maybe done nothing with it, now is a great time to be picking up your email tool, whether that be mailed champ or another. Maybe you’re on Zoho or whatnot and start emailing your clients and letting them know that you just exist. You need to remind them that you are around. They probably have forgotten because they haven’t interacted with you normally like in a normal sense like they have recently. Even if you’re like a pharmacy or a grocery store, you want to be emailing those people even though they are coming to you right now because you want to remind them how helpful and useful you are when things get back to normal. That’s about planning for the future. You also want to be having conversations about how you can help them now and how you can help them in the future. And this is where your email list and building that is so important. You want to start building your email list, and if you have one already, you want to start curating it. Start sending out emails. Start calling the list even for people that may not be a good fit for your email list. That’s all for this week. Thank you so much for listening. We hope you’re doing well. For more on this topic, visit were we want to help you inspire others, build loyalty, and get results. Talk to you again next week.


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