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In times of pandemic, companies can become media outlets

The media has always known that the need for information is directly proportional to the level of uncertainty. Therefore, at times like these, they supply their audiences with infinite amounts of information.

But the new disease COVID-19 caused by the new or novel coronavirus has taken this symbiosis between information production and consumption to new proportions, since everyone is being affected by the phenomenon. Today, people are avidly searching for information and are willing to accept it from any source.

The good news is that in the age of hyperconnectivity, companies have efficient communication channels that can reach their entire business ecosystem, and they can behave practically like media - that is, they can become a reliable source of information for their stakeholders.

How should companies react?

As a communications consultant, our recommendation to our clients has been to use their communication network on a regular basis to update their stakeholders with information.
These stakeholders will search for and consume information even if the company does not provide it, regardless of whether what they receive is truthful and balanced. Thus, many may be tempted to make decisions that affect the company’s interests based in whole or in part on such information: cancellations, restrictions, regulations, etc. may be determined on the basis of unofficial information.

This is why it is vital for companies to be are part of the information diet of their stakeholders and make their voices heard.

How should that communication be offered?

Whenever we talk about efficient or effective communication, we usually talk about the three "Cs":
Cite: Be sure to cite reliable sources of information such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), or the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) among other sources of proven truthfulness or seriousness from the various ministries of health around the world.
Contextualize: Make sure to make the information you have and on which you plan to base your communication relevant to the actors in the ecosystem. Tell them how the information you are providing impacts the lives of your customers, employees, suppliers, regulators or the community in which you operate.
Commit: Ensure that you are communicating action. Explain what measures the company is taking to try to minimize the impact of the outbreak on its operations and to reduce the impact on the various stakeholders of the company.
This is not about whether a business is trying to be opportunistic or not. The Coronavirus outbreak will impact businesses, and they have a commitment to all their involved stakeholders. The best way to honor it is by preventing those within the business ecosystem from making hasty decisions based on erroneous or inaccurate information. The most effective way to do this is by becoming a reliable source of information for the ecosystem.

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