Communication Tips During Crisis: Timing, Trust and Transparency

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Our Chief Strategy Officer, Kerrie, was honored to be featured as an expert panelist for the FoCo Nonprofit Networking Group to discuss Relevancy and Resiliency: What are the Short, Mid, and Long Term Strategies Required by Nonprofits to Survive the COVID-19 Crisis?

You can watch the full video panel (which was held and recorded with Zoom video conferencing software) on the OTM YouTube channel.

As a marketing professional in Northern Colorado, Kerrie was tasked with discussing communications and marketing in a time of crisis as well as communicating with donors, clients and the community.

In short, there are three things that every non-profit organization (and this goes for for-profit businesses as well) needs to keep top-of-mind when communicating with audiences during a crisis: timing, trust and transparency.

Timing: be quick and proactive in your communication efforts

Trust: stick to the facts and explain how those facts impact your organization

Transparency: it’s okay to be uncertain during a time of uncertainty and it is important to be transparent and communicative about that uncertainty

Here are some quick tips for communication during a crisis:

Streamline internal communications and be thorough, consistent and prepared:

  • Make sure your entire team knows where your organization stands on the crisis (impact, actions and needs) and how to communicate that stance
  • Designate a spokesperson and a backup spokesperson who can speak on behalf of your organization to reporters, donors, etc.
  • Designate a centralized location where updates and the latest information can be compiled and accessed by every member of your team

Be mindful in your communication during times of crisis:

  • Package your message so that it’s relevant, but only if you can do it tastefully
  • Be mindful that your organization may need to take a backseat to more pressing issues during this time and seriously consider if your message is a priority – if it’s not, look at ways to support your partner organizations who should be a priority
  • Practice social listening

Platforms you should be using to communicate your message:

  • Social media: choose platforms that cater to whom you serve and your supporters (supporters should consist of donors, potential new donors, sponsors, volunteers, board members)
  • Email Marketing: if you have a carefully curated list, email marketing may be the most effective way to communicate with those who are already in your sphere – but do not oversaturate your audience with emails (send only when necessary!)
  • Website Landing Pages: designate a landing page to all things related to the crisis – consider this your communication platform that is central to your content ecosystem
  • Public Relations: if you have something pressing as a result of this crisis, reach out to the media and let them know! In addition to local news media, reach out to radio stations, bloggers and other content curators for added exposure
  • Direct Communication: phone calls, emails and direct outreach is the most valuable way to connect with the people who already support your mission – have meaningful conversations, check in with your donors and especially your corporate donors that may be impacted (and keep in mind your in-kind supporters as well)

Learn more and hear from other industry experts by tuning into the Zoom video recording. Feel free to contact us with questions!