Communicating effectively during challenging times


Kylie Hawker-Green General Manager, Enterprise Great Lake Taupo As we near the end of second week in lockdown, it’s timely to check in with your internal and external communications and ensure that you’re sharing the right messages, the right way, to the right audience.

It’s a complex and quickly changing world… and therefore our business communications and engagement plans need to be agile to accommodate emergent actions and messages; and your lead communicator (whether your business owner, CEO, Chairman or you!) needs to be comfortable and confident in speaking on behalf of your organisation.

Below are some tips to help you frame up your communications activity to ensure you’re on the right track.


  • Plan. This is not an exact science, and the environment in which we’re working is far from exact for most of us. However, some structure around who is saying what, when and why will help to frame up your activity. You might be talking internally to your staff or business owners, externally to your customers or suppliers, or broader to the public at large… and in many cases, a combination of all three. A simple framework will help. It might be as simple as one newsletter a week, two social media posts a week, two key phone calls a day, etc. Or an incredibly complex matrix with 100 moving parts if you’re a large entity. Having a framework or guide will help keep things on track.

  • Messages. Whilst acknowledging that our world is changing quickly, where possible list down some of the key messages you want to get across. These messages might be firm details – ‘we are closed until Lockdown lifts’ – through to soft engagement – we’d love to hear how you’re keeping the kids entertained at home’. Preparing a list of the key messages you want to get across to your key audiences (internal stakeholders, external stakeholders, public) will help ensure you keep on point. A weekly ‘key messages’ chat with your team might work best for your business, or you might like to plan out the next few weeks in advance.

  • Compassion. Without compromising the need to get your messages across, always strive to show compassion in your external and internal communications. In these trying times, empathy is everything. This isn’t the time to rant nor to rave.

  • Consistency. Regardless of whether we are in a lockdown or not, consistency is king. Your consistency might be the frequency of the messaging, the person presenting the message, the way in which you present it or the medium you use. Your audience will take comfort in your familiar and reliable presence. [Think the daily media briefing by the Prime Minister and the Director-General of Health].

  • Current. Keep it current and respond quickly. Be sure that whoever is monitoring your social media and website enquiry are constantly checking and replying to messages or comments. Ensure they have the information they need to respond accurately. And if your website was overdue for an overhaul – now is the perfect time to get it up to date!

  • Engage. Even if you have had to close the physical doors of your business for lockdown, the virtual doors remain open. Keep your business profile active during lockdown so that your customers remember how much they love you! There are plenty of fun and innovative ways you can do this… restaurants or cafés can share ‘secret recipes’ and challenge their customers to recreate the dish at home; online stores can run promotions to secure sales/revenue now and deliver later; you can run webinars or write blogs on your specialty topic and share for free… If you’re struggling for ideas in this space – reach out to your staff or peers and have a good old virtual brainstorming session! Or find some businesses offshore that are in a similar field to yours and see what they’re doing to keep their brand front of mind during Covid-19.


Regardless of your sector or operating environment during lockdown, every business can benefit from have a robust and disciplined approach to communication and engagement.

You need your business to bounce back post lockdown and come back stronger than before. Ensuring that your customers are still loyal to you and your business is an essential step of that recovery process.

If you need some help to frame up your communications and engagement plan, please don’t hesitate to ask us.

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Taupo

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