Do you have a COVID narrative?
Do you know how to adapt your corporate story to the COVID context? It seems that we are programmed to sell positive images and that, when faced with more complex situations, not all communication departments know how to give the appropriate explanations.
We are not talking about crisis communication here. After months of uncertainty, there is no crisis handbook that can help us. It is about reading the context and knowing how to translate the revised strategy of the organization to your audiences. The key is to convey calm, adaptability and determination to overcome obstacles.
Have you thought about this year’s corporate annual report? How will you prepare the press release announcing the financial results? And how will you explain to the teams the new revisions made to the business plan?
What we need is to approach communication in a comprehensive way to explain the new reality of your company to your audiences. In times of uncertainty, opacity and lack of coherence are the worst allies. One has to find the right blend: being overly confident or optimistic can make you look like if you are not aware of the difficulties of the current scenario.
For instance, will you see your company sales reduced this year? In financial communications it is desirable to be able to explain the good course of the company and how it grows fulfilling phase after phase of the strategic plan. There is, however, a golden rule when news are not so positive: “take the bull by the horns”. Financial journalists and analysts can accept a reduction in turnover and a deviation of results – they can even ‘defend’ it if it is explained in an open and transparent way. What they will not accept is that the scenario is not explained properly and that measures to counter the situation are not detailed.
Many sectors are being severely affected by the current restrictions. If this is your case, you should be able to explain in a transparent manner the effect of COVID for your business and how you plan to overcome the situation. As an example, we like this statement by the Spanish brewer San Miguel.
Why do we like it?
- They accept the negative results.
- They explain that the good management and results of the previous year have allowed them not only to survive but also to help.
- As such, they managed to keep jobs and help other key economic groups, such as bar and restaurants.
- Their contribution to the country’s economic recovery stands out.
- It does not lose track of its corporate purpose or deviate from its commitment to sustainability
But … what if the pandemic has made you a protagonist? Hospitals and health personnel, companies in the pharma sector, research centers … There are many organizations that are assuming a key role in the current pandemic and can therefore take a greater role. It is therefore time to review their story as organizations in order to convey to key audiences (internal teams, external talent, consumers, regulators, investors …) the immense work that is being carried out. In the case of these organizations, the risk is that the day-to-day efforts to respond to the new situation may make them forget something as important as thanking, explaining, motivating … in short, communicating.
The impact of the pandemic is so huge that, whether it has strengthened you as an organization or negatively impacted you, it is very likely that you will have to adapt your plans and review your narrative, as well as rethink your communication strategy.