Navigating Corporate Messaging through Covid-19

In early 2020, we were all called to a higher purpose—to work together to overcome this terrible tragedy. From TV commercials to corporate communications, there was a widely-shared attitude that ‘we can overcome this, we’ll work together.’

Things are different now. Our feelings have been modulating both up and down as we’ve gone through such jarring calamities, from the pandemic to politics and everything in between.

1. Communications should be cautious, not concrete

Companies are pulling back to focus on what’s important for them, rather than what’s important for society at large. It’s like the quote from German philosopher von Goethe: ‘Let everyone sweep in front of his own door and the whole world will be clean.’

With the rise of the variants, whether Delta or now Omicron, there’s been a shift from moving forward positively to a more cautious tone, reflected in things like companies pushing back their office openings to 2022. And that cautionary tone creates a feeling of trying to celebrate people who are still working hard, doing the job, staying focused, staying on task – and doing so in a way that’s specific to their industry and its particular issues, as opposed to a more societal POV.

2. Remote work is an opportunity for humanization

There’s a lot more flexibility to how people are communicating. There’s a lot more humanization when you can see into other people’s living situations and personal lives. And in terms of videos and messages, companies are also having to become more humanized and more real, more emotional and less formal. It’s creating an opportunity for much greater authenticity for everyone from the CEO on down.

The missteps that everyone is trying to avoid is to come out with some sort of statement or a policy that might end up being rescinded. So that’s another reason for the more cautionary tone. With this, the mantra for the best communicators is to tie their message back to their purpose, their mission and their values. Because those are core and will not be changing, regardless of what happens with the economy or how long Covid-19 drags on.

We’ve always been big proponents of being with people in their environments and seeing their surroundings. And that allows you a peek behind the curtain. It helps to create a feeling of a fully dimensional person, when you see the art on their wall, and you see the way they’re dressed and you see their office. That’s being elevated now that there’s so much remote recording going on. What we’re talking about is different from a Zoom call, but it still has the feeling of realness, which allows you to see real people in real situations.

3. Authenticity remains a priority for leaders


We believe authenticity is the rule of the day, particularly now, as people have become more skeptical. Leaders should come out from behind the desk. They can lead better by being more real. As author Brené Brown says, we always appreciate somebody who expresses their vulnerability.

Leaders are struggling with things, too. They’re struggling with the way Covid-19 has changed their businesses, or how it’s affected their workforce. While you can’t lead from fear and insecurity, you can lead from an honest, authentic expression of working your way through it.

Your performance is one component of authenticity—your body language and your intonation. It’s how you look on camera. The other aspect is the authentic nature of the actual words that you’re saying. Nowadays, people just not responding at all to ‘corporate speak.’ They’ve kind of accepted it in the past, and it’s something that’s advised not to do, but people are now looking for a real message that’s empathetic, that’s forward-looking, that has a strong point of view and is driven by values.

And they want to see it from a leader who has the ability to communicate those things authentically, via a performance that’s perceived as being real and authoritative.

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