Everybody is sending emails. Should my organization do that too? What do we say?
Keeping in touch with your constituents and stakeholders now is important, but, doing it sensitively and appropriately is even more important.
To send an email now without at least referencing COVID-19 would be shortsighted. You don’t want to appear to be clueless, or worse, insensitive. Your opening lines could express concern for all and acknowledge our shared unusual predicament.
After that, get straight to the message that you set out to communicate. Many of us are feeling overwhelmed, adrift and impatient. Your succinct, but thoughtful message will be appreciated for being direct, content-rich, and providing the information people need to know right now.
Here are some thoughts:
- Let people know if you are working, closed, or with limited hours. Are services available? If they are, what changes in service delivery will impact your clients.
- How can your constituents contact you; what options exist for communication access.
- If applicable, let your contacts know what measures you are taking to ensure safety. For this, it is important to inform whose measures you are following (WHO, CDC, City ordinances, etc.). As the information and guidance provided changes, yours will adapt as well.
- Don’t feel that you need to dig for content if it is not necessary or appropriate. It is OK to not communicate if you do not have to, or have nothing relevant or pressing to share at this moment.
- Be careful not to provide advice beyond your expertise or credentials. Stick to what you know and your organization’s mission.
- Avoid negative messaging, especially fearmongering or shaming language that undermines confidence or places blame. We are all in this together.
- Humor is not advisable. We do not know what our audiences’ individual state of minds or forms of coping are right now
- Stay clear of any impression of opportunistic appearance.
- Be transparent: Let people know what you are doing, why, and what you plan to do next (within the extent to which you can plan)
- There is no need to communicate just for the sake of communicating: If your area of expertise does not feel relevant or if you do not know what to say, it might be time to communicate less
- Be sensitive to the times: good intentioned outreach might be welcome, but even so, limit it; and, this is not the time for a “business as usual” approach, which could seem tone deaf and insensitive
- Ensure you have a website or social media presence to be able to move fluidly as needs arise
Please feel free to offer your comments or reach out to us.