COVID Impact: Communicating to Coalitions.
Communicating effectively in the midst of a global pandemic is hard enough, but communicating on behalf of dozens, or even hundreds, of associated organizations is another challenge altogether. The leaders of trade associations, coalition organizations, and task forces know this problem all too well. Regardless of the issue area, achieving widespread understanding and buy-in through your desired public relations efforts may seem impossible during COVID-19. Considerations Stakeholder-based organizations—associations, coalitions, or any other group of organizations united by a common mission—all face similar challenges in communicating. Of course, no two organizations are exactly alike, so these challenges can look different for each group based on a membership’s voting power, responsibilities to the overall umbrella group, and levels of engagement. With this in mind, there are a few key aspects of coalition work to consider when communicating during a crisis, regardless of your structure:
- Capacity: Many of your associated groups won’t have nearly as much communications bandwidth as other organizations in the coalition. This leaves them with little internal support and reduced media relations or content creation capabilities.
- Competing Priorities: Although your associated groups may agree on the coalition’s main objectives, they could disagree on how to respond to a crisis. Successfully navigating these disagreements is crucial—internal divisions in the time of a crisis can slow down your response at a moment when speed and decisiveness are essential.
- Time: Crises change on the turn of a dime. Communicating on behalf of a coalition amidst shifting circumstances can require quick decision making among a large number of leaders—and groups of this size and structure can struggle to be nimble while still garnering feedback and buy-in from every organization.
- Set up an email alert for daily updates on all things COVID-19.
- Personally reach out to the leaders of groups that may be disproportionately affected.
- Ensure all internal communications to your members are consistent, immediate, and empathetic.
- Pre-planned responses for media inquiries
- Social media copy and graphics
- Sample press kits
- Webinars and/or long-form content on how to navigate the media landscape during COVID-19