When you sit down to write to anyone right now, there are 3 things I want you to address – in each message you write, and over the coming weeks as the situation evolves.

Phase 1Shock. Never in my life have I experienced such a universal emotion. People around the world are experiencing fear and grief at the same time. Fear of what’s to come. The agony of losing their everyday way of life. That’s not small or something to be ignored. You must communicate with empathy. Find small ways we can be kind and compassionate to anyone you interact with right now. Let me very blunt about this: Stop the pitches. It’s embarrassing. Unfortunately, I’m confident all of us could open our inboxes and find a few examples of people who skipped this step entirely.
Phase 2: Stories. The next time you reach out, the language has to be personal. You. Me. Us. We. When all this starts to settle down, people aren’t going to react to jargon and corporate communications lingo. At that point, I imagine everyone will be so overwhelmed with news and headlines. You can stand out by being the human voice. Your messages must come from people to be heard and to build trust at this critical moment. No matter what you’re selling – a membership, a job, convincing people to stay – you can’t be successful without trust.
Phase 3: Recovery. Now, and only at this step, is it possible for you to offer advice or convince anyone to do anything. Most marketers are getting communications all wrong by jumping to this last step, which is why we all feel like we need a shower after reading some of these emails this week. Right now, we’re all waiting to see what happens. What’s next, and your paid service/role/benefit/tool/etc. should come after it’s well thought out and ready to be rolled out to your team. As for HR, I think this is so important – tell people what’s next when you know. Be detailed. Stop and ask, “What would I want to know right now?” Write that down. 

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