If we’ve learned anything during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s that communications remains an essential service.

No, those of us in the communications business aren’t nurses and doctors or grocery staff putting their lives on the line. We salute them. But without proper communications, their lives would be even more dangerous in this time of COVID-19.

It’s increasingly clear from polling and public reaction that the elected officials, public health leaders and others who are most trusted by the majority of the public are those who:

  • Speak the truth, clearly and concisely
  • Speak with compassion and empathy
  • Correct mistakes or false information promptly
  • Acknowledge the limits of what they know

But we didn’t need a pandemic to know that. Time after time, our experience here at Martin Waymire has shown that associations, companies, governmental units and others facing a crisis do best when they follow those four important rules. It’s even more important today as we deal with a public health and economic crisis none of us have ever seen.

Recently, we’ve been working with a variety of clients on communicating well during the pandemic.

  • We’ve presented crisis communications webinars for city officials and public relations professionals that walk them through how to effectively reach out to their audiences and citizens.
  • We’ve helped clients deliver their messages to reporters and the public directly using social media and billboards.
  • We’ve made sure the public knows some of our clients are on the literal front lines in the COVID-19 battle, fighting the virus with new research and new approaches.
  • We’ve helped some of our clients use new technology and innovation to achieve their goals.
  • We’ve assisted others as they’ve focused on the next steps to address the social and other issues the virus has exposed.

One thing’s for certain: This is the time to prepare for the future. Our state and our nation will be opening up again, with more care and a focus on safety. Companies, associations, campaigns and non-profits that have used this time to prepare for the new realities will be better able to achieve their goals in the future.

The best ideas, most outstanding actions, finest products and most important policies have far less impact if they’re not communicated well. But if those speaking and acting do so truthfully, clearly, and with compassion and empathy, they can gain the public’s trust and even inspire a better world in the days ahead.