“The difference between mere management and true leadership is communication.” - Winston Churchill
In some cases, governments will not have a clear communications strategy. More so, in the case of COVID-19 because of the rapid response required. Here is a framework we've determined that helps cities and organizations plan to succeed, organize and stay productive.
Social media brand values are more important than ever for governments during COVID-19 because there is an immediate demand for principles that can build trust. Furthermore, brand values help the social media team streamline decision-making and provide direction for everything that they do. Pre-COVID19, government social media channels didn't have as much attention as desired but now, more than ever, people are looking for trusted sources.
Below are examples of values we helped the City of Boston develop:
Consistency, so our audience understands when they’ll get an update and our other departments also get into a cadence when they can repost and share
Clarity, straightforward information about city services, balanced with steady reassurance that we’re still here working for them
Creativity, sensitive and responsive. On the pulse of what our community needs to hear from us, sometimes that’s a little light heartedness. Watching and responding to comments and paying attention to trends in tone across social media
Trustworthy, is the most critical goal with our audience so they feel at ease and know how to respond to COVID-19 with any questions they might have. A government's response to the COVID-19 emergency needs to be grounded in data, science, and facts. Data is an important tool to help citizens see the whole picture of coronavirus in their community. It can help us all do our part and see over time how the situation is changing (via source).
Real-Time, so our audience doesn’t have to worry about information becoming stale. We’ll be sure to break news as soon as we verify.
Once you have your values, it will be easier to identify your voice. This is the architecture for the elements in your communication strategy.
Position your voice as an easily recognized, but ethos-filled source for your message. This should be identifiable in every aspect of the framework, from the narrative to the stories.
If you have not determined your voice, identify characteristics that can be used as a reference to ensure all content is maintaining consistency. For example, utilize "authoritative", rather than "condescending" as a characteristic. While the latter could work for a commercial brand, it would not build trustworthiness between a government and its citizens. Tone characteristics can then fall under the umbrella of your voice, depending on the message. For example, if there's an emergency a tone of urgency and seriousness is imperative. Whereas, celebrating a holiday can invoke joy and excitement. The voice should be the articulation of the values, as ways to write.
It might be necessary to revisit and revise your voice as your strategy changes.
The biggest question a citizen will ask themself is when viewing content or advice is, "why should I do this?" Governments need to communicate a general statement that gives everyone a reason to follow their suggestions. Given the current political climate, this message needs to be non-partisan and built on unity.
Being able to unite citizens and help them excel at defeating COVID-19 is the only way we'll be able to transform society.
Example: New Zealand is the most successful country at defeating COVID-19.
Communicating during COVID-19 will need a consistent, clear, creative and trustworthy narrative to incentivize and educate citizens on the urgency to collaborate as a community. Each piece of content you publish ultimately will expand on your overall narrative. We've developed a storyline around three content franchises, which we will continue to elaborate this idea.