3 Things Organisations' Leaders Need to Think About Right Now
Dr.sc.comm. Olga Kazaka, partner at communication agency A.W.Olsen & Partners, lecturer at University of Latvia, author of the book ‘Первая книга о PR’/’Pirmā PR grāmata’
The classic way of dealing with any unpleasant but inevitable changes goes through five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. People do not necessarily go through the stages in the same order. However, sooner or later it is important for all of us to come to the stage of adoption, which bears the understanding that in the nearest time life will be different, and now it is necessary to appropriately evaluate the perspectives and transform. Here are three aspects that it is important to think about right now for any organization leader, entrepreneur, communicator, in order to get out of an unexpected crisis with minimal losses.
1. The emotional soap opera and the time of opinion leaders
The theme of a new mysterious virus that attacks many people affects our self-preservation instincts, and therefore attracts great attention of the audience. No matter how cynical it may sound, but Covid-19 is a new soap opera, the plot of which people are watching with interest through news resources and social networks.
Actual events confirm a long-known fact: emotions attract attention and convince more effectively than facts. So who will people now believe and to whom will they listen? To those who can find a balance between facts and emotions in order to convey their thoughts as efficiently as possible.
As an excellent example of such a balance I want to mention the emergency message of Angela Merkel .
A new challenge awaits the concept of critical thinking. Crisis is always an excellent ground for rumours and conspiracy theories. And here the systematic communication of all organizations becomes even more important.
2. Flexibility and strategic communication as a crisis survival kit
When all is well, true professionalism is difficult to consider. In a crisis, the ability to respond quickly and adapt becomes a competitive advantage.
For example, in a situation where many stores are hit by social isolation, the obvious solution is to offer online shopping with contactless delivery. What is happening in reality? Recently I had a need to make a gift, so I decided to find a store that will offer me an online gift card that can be used online as well. To my surprise, most of the stores, who already have online stores, urged me to come to the physical store both to purchase the card and to use it.
Thus, while some are transforming, trying to get financial flow through online services, participating in barter exchange platforms or producing new products that are now most relevant, others make a pause. In their communication as well. This, incidentally, is an important sign of whether communication for this organization was a strategic tool or fashionable indulgence, decoration. All previous crises clearly showed that better managed to overcome the crisis those organizations who continued to actively and strategically communicate with their audience, helping them solve their problems and daily worries.
Moreover, studies show that today people expect from employers not only interesting work, good salaries and fair working conditions, but also support in solving social issues that are important for employees, as well as interpretation of current processes. As we see, right now it is important to “turn on” both internal and external communication at full capacity.
3. Challenging the new concepts
Conscious consumption, long-term thinking, diversity, tolerance, digitalization of processes ...
On the one hand, we see that bouts of mass panic forced many to sweep products from store shelves; there are obvious signs of an aggressive attitude towards the Chinese in the world; many organizations found it very difficult to switch to remote work using digital solutions. This shows that new trends have not yet had time to take root in our minds and everyday life, and fear, spurred by the instinct of self-preservation, quickly pushed them into the background.
On the other hand, it seems that precisely these new concepts can help us recover from the impending crisis. Learn to live, have fun and consume consciously; to invest not in goods and services, but in the experience and emotions that develop; enrich teams and social circle with people with different experience and cultural backgrounds; to be human and able to solve complex problems; use digital solutions to make business processes more efficient, and also think responsibly about what will be on the market not only tomorrow, but also later. The crisis will pass, the reputation will remain.