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How Companies Can Find Their Authentic Voice Amid Crisis

By Kristi Knight for Ragan

A few short years ago, sending a corporate communication to our employees about personal and political issues such as women’s reproductive rights, gun control, police violence, or other culturally and emotionally charged topics felt taboo. Now, it’s not only normal — it’s expected.

The workforce is changing. It’s younger and more vocal, less likely to form a divide between personal and work lives. While previous generations left their personal lives at home when they went to work, this generation doesn’t even leave home to go to work.

With this sea change, companies must adapt to meet the expectations of this emerging talent pool. Whether we like it or not, cancel culture is real, with companies at equal risk of being criticized for speaking up or staying quiet.

Finding your authentic company voice can take time. Here’s what we’ve learned while refining ours.

3 types of internal communications

At InMoment, we think of internal communications in three buckets: Crisis, Contextual, and Continuous.

Most companies should be good at continuous communication, but some are not.  Types of continuous communications include regular and expected company-wide announcements such as organizational changes and strategy updates. Transparency and consistency are the most important things to get right here.

The next type is contextual, which falls somewhere between continual and crisis. These ad-hoc communications acknowledge ongoing cultural occurrences impacting employees’ physical and mental well-being. Contextual topics are typically not polarizing — mental health awareness, workplace equality, and relief support for natural disasters are a couple of examples. These communications should be timely and let your employees know what you’re doing to meet the challenge.

Finally comes the most nuanced: crisis, which is similar to contextual but requires an immediate response. Examples include Roe v Wade Supreme Court ruling, the murder of George Floyd, the Uvalde school shooting, the war in Ukraine, and the COVID pandemic. These communications are the most challenging because they need to go out quickly (ideally within 24 hours) and pose the most significant risk of polarization. They may also require an ongoing cadence of communications to be most effective.  For more, click here.

Photo by Michelangelo Buonarroti:

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