Preparing for the unknown

In the last two weeks, as the world braced to control the pandemic, communication professionals were busy preparing for the unknown. Never in our life and career have we experienced anything that matches the current situation either in scale or in uncertainty.

Business strategies have often emphasised the aspect of ‘Don’t try and control the uncontrollable.’ It is an important element of business management.

How much of forward thinking can you do?

It is quite frustrating to go through an uncertain phase like this one. No one knows by when this is likely to end. It requires high tolerance. As a communication professional, one is constantly integrating risk & emergency communication, health advisory, and statutory & compliance related communication to ensure all stakeholders are aware of the latest guidelines and practices. At the same time, one is also constantly expected to keep communication templates, FAQs and process handy should an issue breakout in the company.  

Nature of issue can be anything from hiccups in the movement of goods and services to the production of goods to those concerning employees’ health. As various notifications from governments and public bodies keep pouring in, it is a tiresome task to refresh communications.

In situations like this, how much of forward-thinking is enough? How prepared should you be? Are you over-prepared and over-communicating? Is it better to be safe than sorry? Opinions and thoughts on these questions are divided. A lot depends on the company’s culture and communication ethos.

Separate wheat from chaff

In this technology-driven, real-time driven era, a situation like the one we are living in, gives room to a lot of speculation and fake news. It is a big challenge for communication professionals to separate the wheat from the chaff. To know what is real and what is fake. Sometimes, unknowingly, we may be contributing to the chaos and confusion by believing fake information and news. 

When in doubt, it is good to depend on your fraternity and network. Check with them. It is amazing how Communication professionals across sectors and cities have come together to share their knowledge and experience with others.

Stay true to Organisation’s values

Particularly during a crisis, you cannot run with someone else’s communication plan. You need to have a plan is made for your company and fits the value system. Your execution plan needs to balance your leadership’s comfort, organisation values, and what needs to be done given the situation. 

Trying to do things another way because someone else has done it and it has worked for them isn’t ideal. You can influence strategies, policies and practices, but you can’t force things to go your way all the time. 

Take care of your stress

To manage things on hand more efficiently, you need to manage your stress. Know your stress levels and develop a coping mechanism to deal with it. We need to take responsibility for ourselves. For some, living in the moment and forgetting what happens in the future helps to remain stress-free. They don’t fuss over being successful tomorrow. To that extent, they are in control with their control their thoughts, emotions, and actions.

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Radha Radhakrishnan
Radha Radhakrishnan has over 25 years of experience in corporate communications and marketing across different industries and geographies. She has built a reputation as a storyteller and a creative thinker. She has mentored social entrepreneurial startups and has been a visiting faculty at premier communications institutes in India. She is currently the global head of corporate communications at Wipro Enterprises. She anchors the weekly PR and Communication podcast, Mrigashira.

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