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Guide to ceo communications through phase 2 of covid-19 en

A 7 Step Guide To CEO Communications Through Phase 2 of COVID-19

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Guide to ceo communications through phase 2 of covid-19 en

  1. 1. 01 All around the world, governments, business and industry are rising to the enormous challenge of managing the COVID-19 crisis. From one country to another, certain quarantine restrictions are carefully being eased, while others are still at lockdown stage. One thing is clear, after several months of reacting and learning to adapt to the immediate impact of the crisis, we are now reaching a new phase with its own unique communications needs. During the first phase of the crisis, business leaders formulated and activated their crisis plans to react to what was needed immediately. previously set out what these plans should include in its seven step guide to COVID-19 Crisis Planning. As the crisis unfolds, business leaders need to adopt a more forward thinking approach, preparing to scale operations back up and shifting from reactionary measures to making longer-term changes. This is the management phase between the containment of the crisis and things beginning to ease and recover. It is an uncertain wait and see phase with numerous crisis communications challenges for CEOs and business leaders along the way. During this time, the initial panic has faded, but confidence has not returned and more than anything, stakeholders want to know about well-being, safety and business continuity. Guide to CEO Communications Through Phase 2 of COVID-19
  2. 2. 02 Business leaders must navigate changes in business pattern, new ways of delivering products and services, research new technologies and rethink their marketplace to ensure they safely emerge from the crisis. Along the COVID-19 crisis cycle of disruption, management and recovery, there are still many obstacles businesses face, such as cost savings, lay-offs, furloughs or other short-term and long-term impacts. It is important to monitor the local and international picture to understand what is expected as economies reopen sector by sector. COVID-19 is a crisis beyond the experience of most business leaders who now need to strike the right tone of caution coupled with realistic optimism and confidence. Taking guidance from governments and public health authorities, leaders should manage not simply the immediate the threat, but begin strategizing for the economic recovery that will follow. The pandemic has turned everyone’s life upside down and different stakeholders now have different demands. Employees seek reassurance, shareholders want performance and customers expect uninterrupted service but with additional safety measures. Empathy with the worry of an unknown future we are facing and providing reassurance should be the central principle to all stakeholder communications at this stage. COVID19- Poses an Inevitable Change
  3. 3. 03 To help companies and organizations navigate COVID-19 successfully, . sets out its seven-step guide to Leading Effectively Through Phase 2 of the COVID-19 Crisis: CEOs have had to adopt a new way of communicating that is more mindful, sensitive, empathetic and adjusted in tone from a linguistic perspective. Be authentic and human, resonating with the new realities for employees, customers and the community. The pandemic has translated into a new global language, a new way of speaking to internal and external stakeholders who are socially distancing and worrying about what will happen next. Employee furloughs and lay-offs may be necessary and will inevitably test reputations and relationships. Announcing bad news is difficult in normal times, but even more so now when it has to be delivered virtually due to social distancing rules. As a CEO you need to frame announcements carefully, treating people with dignity, fairness and respect. Reflect on ways your organization has explored other options of reducing costs to save as many jobs as possible. Show you care for your employees and stress that lay-offs are not their fault. Leading with compassion and empathy is more critical than ever. Balance the need to drive business performance with the need to be sensitive and considerate to maintain business health. 1 Mindful Communication Navigating Through Phase 2 1 2 3 4 7 5 6
  4. 4. 04 Employees remain a key stakeholder group that requires regular communication as they continue to endure social distancing measures and are beginning to wonder what a return to the workplace will look like. . ’s Guide on Employee Engagement in COVID-19 provides the framework for companies to adopt to keep their teams informed, loyal, motivated and engaged during the crisis. Laid-off and furloughed employees remain a potential reputational risk, as they may take to social media to publicize their grievances. It is essential that organizations treat them well from a reputational perspective. Employees who remain will be fearing for their own jobs and judge how the company treats furloughed workers. Internal communications messaging needs to evolve from health basics to business survival and recovery. Uncertainty leaves room for speculation and misinformation, so it is important that teams continue to receive frequent, clear, and reliable information. According to recent data, employees trust and rely on their employers as a source of information about COVID-19 more than government and social media. As new facts emerge from public government sources, with various economies opening up again, information needs to be clearly and immediately provided to employees in the context of the organization. 3 Internal Communications Trust starts with transparency. In uncertain situations, many CEOs face questions they may not have the answers to yet. Even if you are still trying to understand the extent of the problem, be honest and open to maintain credibility. Do not delay possible negative news that needs to be conveyed and explain this in the strategic interest of the ultimate long-term survival of the business. Publicly listed companies have a special responsibility to communicate the impact of the virus on their operations. How they plan for the uncertainty and financial disclosures are watched by the financial markets, the media, investors and analysts. Be transparent in communicating near-term challenges and what you are doing about the problem. We are navigating unchartered waters with consequences for many people over a long period of time where you need to be prepared to make tough decisions. Explain what decisions are being made and how. Show that your leadership team is proactive. Use the crisis as an opportunity to review and reinforce the organization’s long-term principles, values and mission. 2 Be Transparent
  5. 5. 05 COVID-19 is a considerable new responsibility for the corporate sector who now needs to team up with the government to restart the economy. Collaboration between the public and private sector will also help drive new solutions towards recovery. The pandemic resulted in an overhaul of economic trends and public health policies that needed to be implemented overnight. Governments have had to rely on companies to step forward quickly to provide key workers, essential supplies and services. The relationship between the government/public sector and the private sector is now vital to navigate through the crisis and ensure the continuity of the economy and jobs. Neither businesses nor governments can do this alone, so be proactive in your public affairs efforts at a time when governments are looking for solutions and depend on the continued cooperation of the corporate sector in managing the ongoing demands and consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. Building the right relationships now will ensure you create a positive climate of opinion about your company as being part of the solution going forward. Always demonstrate your ongoing support for government policy and reinforce public health messages and campaigns. 4 Public Affairs COVID-19 has changed consumer habits, preferences and priorities. Many companies are forced to review their current business model. There will be new emerging trends and structural changes that can redefine how your company and industry will be organized. The necessity of operating differently gives businesses the opportunity to create win-wins by finding partners with brand synergies and access to new target audiences. Identify who is important to your business and the priorities they have for communication. Target audiences include employees, investors, customers, suppliers, regulators, government and communities. Trust and connection with these audiences will be central to the sustainability of your organization through the crisis. Enhance the relationships with the communities in which you operate to show you are rallying behind local, national and global efforts towards recovery. 5 Foster Connections
  6. 6. 06 6 Lead by Example Everything CEOs do and communicate is currently scrutinized by the public and media more than usual. Especially around the way employees are being treated and policies relating to austerity measures, such as pay-cuts. CEOs need to show that they are sharing the pain whilst still having to perform at their best in uncertain times. Solid leadership in a crisis builds stakeholder trust at all levels and reinforces confidence in the integrity, competence and ethics of the CEO. Leaders need to demonstrate optimism, community, purpose, compassion and endurance. Employees take their cues from the CEO, looking for certainty and reassurance. Remain calm and embody the values you wish your team to apply, championing the cause of the common goal of overcoming the COVID-19 crisis. Stakeholders will not be motivated to invest in the future if leaders are not demonstrably behind it. Act with calm, resilience, empathy, persistence and strategic focus. Leaders need to demonstrate in their communications and actions that they are working towards the destination of stability and the next normal.
  7. 7. 07 Every crisis has an end. Stay focused on the horizon, future-proofing your business model and helping to define the new tomorrow. Businesses need to take an assertive approach and explore how they can set themselves up on the right trajectory for growth. While prioritizing the wellbeing of staff and business continuity, CEOs need to review whether their strategies remain fit for purpose. This includes considering adjustments they may need to make given technological advances, changing customer and employee behaviour, supply chain resilience and the increased role of governments. Consider what happens not just today, but tomorrow and beyond. The resulting wider and longer-term perspective can help make the company’s emergence from the crisis stronger and more sustainable. Organizations that take a longer-term approach will spark innovations and effective leaders will shape a meaningful story for their organization, invoking a common culture and values. Beyond the crisis, expect to be held to a higher standard about societal responsibilities. Emphasize a shared sense of purpose and how the organization is rallying at a generation-defining moment. Resilient leaders are skilled at triage, able to stabilize their organizations to meet the crisis at hand while finding opportunities amid difficult circumstances. The current focus right now should be on supporting workforce wellbeing and getting through the long haul. This is no longer a reactive crisis response program, but rather the change management to a new status quo. 7 Reshaping the Future
  8. 8. 08 Moving Forward The disruption of COVID-19 has created urgent new needs and new, large customer problems to solve which is a vast innovation opportunity. You should focus on what is important to them, provide relief when possible and communicate empathy rather than trying to create selling opportunities. Companies need to review their communications strategies to be in line with the current mood. Now is the time to review your relevant communications, your media, brand purpose and market changes. Share successes and lessons learned with your industry and stakeholders. Highlight how your organization is responding to the crisis with positive stories about how people are adapting to new ways of working. A well-crafted press release, email, or blog can build confidence and inspire. Focus on how your organization is rising to the united challenge of contributing to the global COVID-19 response.
  9. 9. 09 About is an independent communications consultancy based in Saudi Arabia. Our understanding of the local market converged with our global reach and knowledge enables us to bridge our clients with their audiences effectively. We are aligned by the objective of filling the gap in communication that exists in the local market. Therefore, our specialty lies in building bridges that sustain relationships and create brand reputation and value through innovative approaches. Our array of services includes, but is not limited to: •Corporate Communications Strategy •Stakeholder Mapping •Crisis Management •Corporate Social Responsibility •Internal Communications •Reputation Management •Media Relations •Public Relations •Public Affairs •Social Media •Marketing & Brand Solutions
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