How to evaluate if your coronavirus message is necessary

Though some PR experts call for erring on the side of over-communicating, inundated and anxious audiences will appreciate any effort to avoid unnecessary outreach.

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The military has well-defined etiquette for radio network traffic. When you have a TIC – troops in contact [with the enemy] – anyone with routine traffic should stay off the network. This leaves the line open for the on-scene commander and his commanding officer to communicate.

That’s what businesses should think about right now—staying off the net. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is not a crisis that requires “over-communication” as the PR conventional wisdom prescribes.

Certainly, there are cases where it makes sense for businesses to communicate. Banks and utilities that are closing or limiting services are good examples. However, those types of companies are experiencing business disruptions that directly impact customers.

The problem is when other companies feel pressured to communicate merely because they see other businesses communicating. That’s not a good reason to reach out. It clutters the lines of communication with non-essential messages.

Establish a threshold that triggers communication

A good way to evaluate whether external communications is necessary is to establish a threshold. That threshold will be met when a company finds contingency plans directly affect customers.

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