During this time of tremendous change and uncertainty, we are so proud to be working with local organizations that are stepping up altruistically, and that we are able to help share those feel good news stories with local media and the community.
It is critically important, however, to communicate only what our community needs right now – as opposed to being opportunistic about a global crisis. This is where strategy comes in, and the importance of really understanding your audiences.
There is no clear line between what will be perceived as an altruistic good news story and what will be perceived as opportunistic. Each story needs to be evaluated one-by-one. And sometimes it’s simply a matter of how the story is positioned. For example: leading with what the community needs and making any mention of your brand secondary (or even tertiary) in the story.
When contemplating whether to communicate something on behalf of your organization, our team has considered the following five questions to determine if something will make people “HAPPI”:
Help – Will this help the people in my community during this crisis?
Active need – Is there an active need for what I’m communicating?
People or Product – Is my story focused on people or product?
Pride – Will the people who matter most to us be proud of what we are communicating?
Information – Am I sharing new information?
This will not only help focusing on sharing the most appropriate good news stories and maintain the trust of your stakeholders, but it will also build goodwill and strong relationships for the future. Specifically, our team looks at two audiences: those who directly support the organization’s business (e.g. customers) and of course, the news media.
If those two audiences feel good about what your organization is doing and communicating, they may not be able to support the organization financially right now, but they will support you however they can for as long as they can.
While the Strategic Communications team is well-experienced in these areas, we are also continuing our learning and best practice sharing with others in our industry. What we know for certain is that maintaining trust is the single most important component of business decisions and communications right now. And it is far easier to maintain trust than it is to regain trust once it has been lost.
The greatest advice we can offer right now is to talk with others in your organization and with trusted partners about decisions like this. Set sales and financials aside, and ask the group: “Will this message make people HAPPI?”