By Jomel Anthony V. Gutierrez
THERE is a reason why the public is clamoring for more information during this pandemic. Nobody wants to be left out, especially if everyone is affected. Information, regardless if it’s during a crisis or in a normal situation, is a public right. It is also the business of the public to access and share reliable and credible information, especially during this era of fake news.
At this time of global pandemic, if there is one thing that COVID-19 helps us realize, it’s the strong value of communication. In times of crisis, communication is key especially from the people who are managing our country or an organization. Communication experts have shared several tips in the past to ensure that everyone is updated and information is not contained. But here are some of my practical tips especially for managers, heads, and leaders managing crisis communication, which might help in addressing misinformation or the lack of information.
• A designated spokesperson is a must. Their most important task? To be credible and aware of what is happening. In times of crisis, who will communicate and what to communicate are a critical combo.
• Messages should be clear so that everyone is on the same page. There is no room for complex explanations. Every word matters.
• Channel is crucial. Use it well!
• During a crisis is not the time for PR stunts or other unnecessary photo opportunities. Public information is key, not publicity extravaganzas.
• When hit by public criticism due to how the crisis is managed, respond in a timely manner. Do not make it seem like it is all about you or your organization. Nobody cares what you or your organization think — the public only wants to be informed of the situation and how it is being addressed. Again, words are precious during this time, they can either hit you or your organization or save all of us.
• Lastly, do not take for granted the value of information and the public. This age of social media has made everyone a source of information. Thus, as the authority of this information, spread the facts and INFORM, INFORM, and INFORM.
Stay safe and keep yourself updated! Stop sharing fake news and don’t be a source of misinformation!
Jomel Anthony V. Gutierrez is a communication practitioner and former journalist with a masters degree in Media and Cultural Studies at the University of Roehampton in London.