by Tom Garrity

This month has felt like a week of Mondays! Right?  And now, it is Friday the 13th. It appears that St. Patrick’s Day celebrations will be mostly silent, water will be procured from a tap and we will be hopeful to have an appropriate number of squares for the necessities.

How did we get here? Where do we go from here? How long will this last? Why are people freaking out? Who do I trust for information? When will things return to the way it was? And, what can I do to reclaim the high ground on communication?

After working through those very questions with various people over the past four to five days, here are some things to keep in mind as we adapt to the new realities (at least for the next few months).

The realities you face today will be different than those you face in seven to fourteen days. Similarly, the communication challenges you face today will be different than those you will be working through a week from now. As a result, take one day at a time.

Connecting with your clients and customers will require tapping into the buckets of trust and compassion.  One of the reasons people are literally freaking out is because the people telling us to remain calm are lacking compassion and represent professions we trust the least!

According to the 2020 Garrity Perception Survey, New Mexico residents distrust federal and state government officials more than we trust them. Yet, those same government officials are the ones who are trying to dip into a trust bucket that is nearly empty (this is a multi-partisan mess and can’t be blamed on one political party).  As a result, we have a run on water bottles, hand sanitizer and toilet paper?  Why? Trust.

If your profession has a trust bucket that is full (scientists, teachers and doctors), leverage it.  New Mexico residents trust what you have to say. Just make sure it is responsible and accurate. Elected officials should centralize the message but diversify the messengers.  Engage messengers from professions residents trust and your message will have greater credibility.

If your profession has trust bucket issues and is near empty, show compassion; this includes State Government Officials, Federal Government Officials, Journalists and lawyers.  It is proven that the level of compassion an organization shows to victims is equal to how quickly that organization will recover from a crisis and rebuild trust with affected audiences.

During a time that brands are being beat down by consumers like a game of Whac-A-Mole, now, more than ever, you need to think about your message and not just check a box to try and build trust with a well-crafted statement and a bottle of hand sanitizer dispenser.  Many organizations miss this because they take their customers for granted.  As a result, many small businesses and large organizations will fail in some form during this transition.

Connect with your audiences in a meaningful way.  I’ve seen some great examples of this with gyms sharing how often they clean locker rooms and training areas to restaurants sharing their cleaning and safety regimens.  One of the best examples was in the wake of public schools being closed for three weeks; a local hospital offered free meals for students who might be impacted by food insecurity.

Still don’t know what to do? Do the right thing. We simply need more people doing good just because it’s good and the right thing to do.  If you do, this week of Mondays will quickly become Tuesday.

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