We are now so focused on the coronavirus storm that it is almost impossible to imagine how the future will be. Will we get back to our normal lives? And what about corporate communications? What are society’s expectations towards companies and institutions’ ways of communicating and behaving?
There are still no answers to these questions but maybe it is time we think about this now that this crisis has led us to be exposed. What is happening is real and before coronavirus, we had no idea of our weaknesses. Here are three ideas we should consider in order to be better prepared for the future.
People: assertiveness is key
We already know that being assertive and proactive as well as the ability to say no with determination and without offending anyone are essential, but these skills would be even more necessary in the coming years. In the past few days, we have had to learn how to handle a critical situation for many clients. We are consultants and advisors whose role is to help companies executing the best communications strategies possible. Sometimes, to say “no” is the best way to avoid mistakes. It is an attitude that we should add to our good practice manual.
Institutions and media: credibility is at stake
Some time went by before we realized the seriousness and extent of the crisis. Now, we can expect these quarantine measures to be implemented more often in the future as there are new outbreaks of the virus.
Scepticism is seen as a normal human reaction and is the result of perceptions and sensations more than thoughts. At the beginning of the crisis there was a clear discrepancy between what we were living – everything is fine, we are all doing well – and our invisible enemy. The problem is that many people do not trust institutions anymore, especially after the 2008 crisis. That’s why credibility is so important. If institutions’ messages and actions do not match people’s expectations in the current situation, we can expect more damage for the crisis to come. Their efforts to communicate in a transparent, clear and appropriate way will determine whether citizens will respect preventive measures in the future.
It also to be noted that media are affected by this crisis and should respect the same principles if they want to survive.
Economy: memory of the crisis
The crisis of 2008 is not that far, and many people still remember cutbacks and hardships. After more than 10 years of crisis, we now live in an ever more unequal world as illustrated by the yellow vests’ movement in France.
It is impossible to predict the type of economy that will prevail within one or ten years. It may be an alternative economic model or one which keeps using conservative formulas in a world that no longer exists. Having said that, I do think that the companies which have now committed to providing medical equipment to overwhelmed sanitary systems should consider other options for doing business in times of peace. Maybe it is time we rethink the way we use money, we produce and we relate to each other.