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  • Raj Varma

COVID-19 Crisis Communication Guide

Updated: Apr 1, 2020

Review crisis communication best practices


Deliver messages that convey calm and are transparent and tailored to your audience

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CXO UG has surveyed hundreds of companies about their experience of the COVID-19 pandemic. Discover how the people who help you deliver value — arguably your most critical asset — are experiencing this state of potential anxiety.


Pay special attention to the 3i’s; this is the most critical principle as it promotes a channel for two-way feedback and allows employees to feel heard in a time of crisis.
Inform, Interact & Involve: Conduct check-ins beyond initial communications to ensure key messages are being understood and identify areas for improvement. Follow CXO’s 3i’s of engaging leadership to ensure effective two-way communication.
Commitment to health and safety: Your organization is nothing without your employees. Highlight your commitment to your employees’ physical, mental, financial, and social well-being.

Business continuity plan: Offer clear and straightforward information. Share a summary of your BCP, including key actions and oversight. Be sure to include some of the other best practices listed below.
Transparency: Given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 situation it is best to be transparent in communications about what is known that could affect employees.
Audiences: COVID-19’s impact will differ based on a variety of factors and this means there is a need for different communications. Segment messages and approaches by employee type and/or geography and work environment.
Channel/Medium: Differing audiences will be receptive to different channels, mediums, and language. Ensure communication methods align with the message being communicated and who it is being communicated to.
Authentic: Write messages in a way that embodies the personality of the deliverer and shows the human aspect of the message. Don’t spin information; position it with empathy within the wider organizational context.
Timely: With the situation evolving hourly and daily, manage expectations of when new updates can be expected and stick to them, for example, set expectations that a COVID-19 update can be expected at the beginning of each day
Clear ownership: With key actions and resources changing daily, make sure to clarify ownership of BCP actions in the communication to avoid a bottleneck of questions for one person or department.
Resources: Provide employees with key resources (such as EAPs) all in one location (such as an intranet) to make it easier for both employees and resource providers.

CXO UG has created the Leadership Crisis Communications Guide Template is to provide communicators (i.e. anyone writing or sharing communications) across the organization with guidance on how to communicate effectively. It is meant to be customized by the communicator and should be used in conjunction with CXO's Crisis Communication Guide for Leadership.


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