In this article, we’ll summarise the key points from this quick five-step guide, suggesting how companies can be useful and effective and identify with society at a time when communication must also tackle the crisis. The document starts by quoting a saying that’s commonly used in the world of marketing and crisis communication: “You cannot control what happens to you, but you can control what you do about it”. This is the starting point to analyse the implications of the Covid-19 emergency on corporate communication. In fact, with this in mind, it would appear fundamental for communicators to take a pragmatic approach, especially at a time of such confusion and anxiety, when the Company’s Vision may seem somewhat blurred, but the Mission must ensure that the company keeps its nerve. It is important to keep fully focused on the original communication objectives. It is clear that businesses are being held back by the pandemic, making now the right time for them to stop and strengthen their values.
This process involves five steps which Ogilvy has defined as “DRIVE”, making reference to both how to behave and the symbolic meaning of guiding/managing the crisis:
- Determine (audience), answering a question to be asked right away: who is our audience at this juncture? Can we be useful for a new audience compared to who we target under normal circumstances? In the document, Kronick states “Determine who needs to know what”
- Refine (messaging): meeting the need to refine the message to be sent, depending on the circumstances
- Inform (constituencies):demanding accurate information, with an interesting specification regarding the importance for the organisation to use authoritative sources
- Values (focus): representing the need to focus on values , which may mean either communicating innate values more strongly or identifying new ones, which may have emerged from this particular situation
- Evaluate (impact): monitoring the results of communications remains key. Also and even more so during a crisis, crisis communications must assess the cause-consequence relationship at each point of the process to provide information, taking the time which, ironically, seems to be lacking under these circumstances.
These recommendations allow companies to manage a crisis as if they were captains of a ship who, despite the storm, know exactly where they are and look for the best possible way for everyone to get to calmer waters. Kronick concludes by specifying something that gets rid of any ethical doubts the reader may have: “Using your expertise or brand capital to help during a crisis is not about commercial advantage or profit. It is about doing the right thing for society and showing a company’s true values and citizenship”. A pragmatic approach, with Ogilvy itself demonstrating how this can be put into practice in the field; a series of precautions and suggestions, shared as ‘doses’ of information during the pandemic period, which companies can use in order to move firmly towards recovery.
The paper written by Scott Kronick “How to communicate in turbulent times” is available from the following link: