It’s hard these days to turn on a TV, tune in a radio, or scan your social feeds and not come across news on the coronavirus. Whether the virus is something that deeply concerns you or you think it’s overhyped, something business leaders can’t ignore is that it needs to be addressed in some way.
Company’s all over the country are banning non-essential travel, allowing employees to work from home, and giving lessons on how to conduct personal interactions to keep both parties healthy.
No doubt, there are ongoing communications between employers and employees. Making sure everyone is on the same page at the company or organization.
One of the interesting side effects of the coronavirus news has been a spotlight on how exactly companies are getting the word out to their workforce. Internal communications is something people are paying attention to.
In some cases, it’s a personal approach, one-on-one or managers talking with their teams. When it comes to larger companies, an all-employees email might be sent.
Easier Said Than Done
It’s tricky. One thing is for sure… you need a plan for how to handle communications about the coronavirus.
In a perfect world I’m sure we would all love to be able to talk with our employees personally. It’s more impactful because we can see and hear the person in front of us and make a connection, which gives our message more weight.
Unfortunately, many companies or organizations are too large or too spread out over large geographic areas for this. Even trying to talk to people in small groups can be challenging.
That’s why many turn to email, only they’re missing another viable option.
Enter Video Communications
As the Founder and Chief Storytelling Officer at a Chicago and Milwaukee video production company, I work with internal communications teams frequently on using video to communicate important messages to employees.
If you want people to sit up and take notice, video is the way to go. It’s the next best thing to delivering news in-person.
You may still use email to reach every employee, but in this case it’s simply a delivery method for your video.
The Stats Are In
More and more internal communications professionals are turning to video. According to the Gatehouse State of the Sector that looks at internal communication and employee engagement:
- 72% of companies are using IC video
- 80% of IC pros consider video an effective communications channel
- 65% of IC pros plan to increase their use of video in 2020
Why Video Works
Video is a great way to communicate with employees for a couple of reasons.
First, in the basic sense, it allows you to get your message out like email or anything else. It allows you to convey important information.
Second, and this is where video separates itself from other forms of communication, it allows us an opportunity to tap emotions.
It’s possible to do this with words on a page or screen, but video does it better.
Video allows us to connect with our audience on an emotional level because we can use multiple senses. As viewers, seeing and hearing from someone deliver a message can be just as important as the information itself.
What’s their tone? What’s their body language? These are the types of things video can convey better than other mediums.
You don’t have to go overboard when it comes to producing a message about something important like the coronavirus.
Sometimes all it takes is putting a company leader on-camera and allowing them to speak directly to people. Yes, sometimes less is more.
Now, if you have resources you’d like to share or other practical information that could use some visual support, there’s nothing wrong with upping the production value a little to deliver that information, just know that it isn’t “necessary.”
Remember… we want to use this video to connect emotionally with people.
We can reassure people that we’re on top of a situation without fancy productions.
What Not To Do
Okay, now I know I’m walking in murky waters with this next part, but here it goes.
Don’t script your message.
Say what?! You want us to send a message out to every employee that isn’t scripted?!
When it comes to something like the coronavirus… yes. That’s exactly what I’m saying.
Here’s the deal, if you want to write out some talking points, I’m fine with that. However, let the person on-camera deliver the message using their own words… in an authentic voice.
If we recognize that video is meant to connect with our audience on an emotional level, we also have to acknowledge that a scripted message strips all that emotion away.
Our viewers know when they’re being fed a line. As soon as they think they’re getting a sanitized corporate message, you’ve lost them emotionally.
I know this can be difficult, especially when it comes to a health issue. There could be legal issues at play here, but whenever possible let the person delivering your message to speak from the heart using their own words.
That authentic message is what’s going to get through to people. They’ll be able to see and hear it thanks to video.
How To Go Off Script
Now, if you have to script something for one reason or another, you can still save yourself in your audience’s eyes.
Just be upfront with them.
“The coronavirus has many of us on edge, so I’m going to read to your our official company policy.”
And then after that policy has been read…
“Now that we have the legal stuff out of the way, here are my thoughts…”
It is possible to combine a scripted message followed by something from the heart. The more upfront and honest you are about it, the more authentic your message will seem.
While the coronavirus can be a tricky and even scary situation for all of us to navigate, internal corporate communicators need to be at their best.
They need to get information out, and it’s crucial to do it in the most impactful way possible. You can use video to make sure people get the news they need in a way they’ll connect with and remember.