With three weeks left to go before the end of 2020, I can’t wait to see this year in the rearview mirror. But as I look toward 2021 and all the possibilities, particularly as a vaccine for COVID is distributed, I’m led to conclude that next year is going to be as confusing, as dicey, and as much of a field of disinformation for organizations and individuals as 2020 was — maybe even more.
I think there’s so much pent-up anxiety, anger, frustration, and concern that will not abate until we reach herd immunity. If you believe the science (which by the way you should), that’s probably not happening until the fall of 2021. That means if you got something to say, be prepared for comments to get refuted, discounted, discarded, ignored, and not trusted.
We have reached an apex in a society where what you say is often not given face value. So plan on operating in somewhat of what I would certainly call a Crisis Communication mode throughout 2021. That also applies to monitoring your online reputation and managing reviews. You may also want to consider developing some crisis scenarios and train to them over the course of 2021.
No matter what you put into play & no matter how many emails, social media posts, statements in front of audiences, press releases, and the like you produce, you’re going to have to think of three things throughout 2021. First, you’re going to have to say something not once, not twice, but over and over and over again. Repeating your message is going to be important for it to sink in and to become something that people are going to take for what it’s worth — something truthful. You will need to re-emphasize your messaging on an even more regular basis than you’ve done. The repetitiveness of your messaging in 2021 is key.
Number two, you’re going to have to back it up with facts. Now people who are anxious and angry don’t necessarily follow truths. They’re not in a place emotionally where they can accept that. But by repeating your messaging and backing it up with some elements of verifiable facts will help your message sink in sooner rather than later.
The third step is to keep in mind the anxiety, the frustrations, and the anger — the emotions if you will — of your audiences.
You’re going to have to empathize with people and say “Look, I know you’re getting a lot of information. I know how you’re feeling.
I know you’re anxious. Here’s what we’re doing to solve it.” It doesn’t even have to be COVID-related. It’s probably good practice to do anyway in a world where everybody’s just getting pummeled with information through a smartphone, through a billboard, through podcasts, and the like.
t’s good just to be that mindful of your communications, and that’s probably the way it’s going to be moving forward. That’s okay.