So much is changing beyond recognition. As we reel, we want to support each other as best we can, wherever we are. Enterprises have been handed greater responsibilities, face challenges with no preparation, and are looking for ways to care for their audience and themselves.

Given the circumstances we all face, we will be increasingly online. We need to consider how this changes our communication. Right now, whether we have a web presence or just want to use online tools to reach out to our audience, there are critical questions we need to ask to help ourselves and others going forward.

1. Who are we communicating with?

This may not be as simple as it seems. There may be multiple audiences, depending on the service we offer. For now, our online audience is going to include most of our workers as well as our customers, guests, or clients, and we’re looking to establish support for each other. As an enterprise, we need to be sharing with our verticals and horizontals – are there ongoing supply chain issues to navigate, are subsidiaries connected as closely as we’d like?

2. What does our audience need to hear from us?

Put ourselves in their shoes, try and meet their needs for reassurance, clarity, and honesty. We won’t be able to resolve all issues, but we can care, and share how we’re going to help.

3. What do we need to communicate with others?

This could be telling it like it is (responsibly, and making it accessible), as well as highlighting what we’re working toward and how that will impact our audience.

4. Do we have the tools to communicate effectively while in-person connections are impossible?

To move quickly we can provide a message on our front page to amplify or reinforce what we’re doing through calls and emails. We might use existing plug-ins or embed a video. In the long term, we will be looking at bespoke interactive solutions to engage our audiences.

5. How quickly can we get a robust, smooth process in place?

Who does what, when and how? Building flexible and failsafe processes enable us to implement, iterate, and deliver rapidly changing content.

Put the audience first

Putting our audience first at this time may be difficult, but focusing on others’ needs will lead to better communication and understanding for everyone.

When we ask these five questions about communicating online, our immediate answers will be different from those we come to after ten minutes, and different again from answers a day later. We shouldn’t stop asking.

Fundamentally, the questions above have not changed just because times are changed. However, what we choose to communicate now has more impact than just a few days and weeks ago, and how we do it will make all the difference to keeping ourselves and our audience safe and well as we move forward together.

– Ray Shah, founder, Think Design