Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. These three simple words have whole new meanings in 2020.
When loosely defined, “yesterday” reflects the past, and for many, the past is now only a few weeks ago. Pending where you live, pre-March, yesterday’s life was pretty much the same as it was in the last decade — routines of work, life at home, family and friends. For communications professionals in agencies, “yesterday” was simply the ability to implement PR strategies based on clients’ products, stories and/or agreed-upon programs. “Yesterday,” we had embarked on a new decade, branding it as the decade of clear vision (i.e., 20/20).
Today, we realize that the visions of yesterday have morphed into variations of what we thought would be versus the reality of uncertainties we are all facing. Regardless of what your industry of expertise is, all communications professionals are in crisis mode. The severity of it depends on your client base.
Those in the travel, hospitality and restaurant industries are in “saving” crisis mode, counseling their clients on how to navigate through today’s evolving crisis. For those of us in tech, we’re in a different kind of crisis — the kind in which we are counseling our clients on when to offer services for free versus charging regularly. These businesses keep the world glued together because tech is the connective tissue enabling millions to work from home. And for those in healthcare, the immediate safety demands and appropriate messaging to convey to the outside world are forcing communications professionals to think through things they hadn’t imagined before.
Tomorrow, while no one really knows the aftermath of the current global COVID-19 crisis, what we do know is that communications professionals will continue to be challenged. Crisis communications is and will continue to be redefined as tomorrow brings about new facts, not only on COVID-19, but on the effects it has on each company we represent. We need to think through tomorrow on a day-by-day basis, and not in a futuristic manner. The future will unfold, but we need to plan for tomorrow based on updated facts.
So, what should communications professionals be doing? We need to stay focused on the facts and avoid jargon and opinions from the media, friends and family. It’s our responsibility to deal with facts because they will enable us to provide the proper guidance to companies. It’s also our responsibility to not jump in on the pandemic and see it as an opportunity, unless it’s an opportunity for all — and, in some cases, it is. We need to be putting forth pitches to journalists that are relevant to the broader public, as well as keeping the industry pitches going, because not everything comes down to the pandemic.
Millions are working from home, and industries are still functioning. Be patient as the facts of yesterday are outdated today and surely will change tomorrow. And with that, so should your strategies. It doesn’t mean you can’t plan for the future, because we will all get through this global pandemic, and we all have an obligation to do our part to ensure that the world keeps turning.
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Author: Valerie Christopherson, CommunityVoice