What week are we on now? 😩

As time rolls on, it’s getting harder and harder to keep up. 

Everyone is thinking about it. Everyone is talking about it. 

There’s just too much to read, listen to, and watch. 

It’s a lot.

So how do you know who to listen to? 

What’s really important? 

The truth is, we don’t know exactly. The scale of COVID-19 is beyond what we could have imagined. Just like you, we’re figuring it out what our audience needs as we go along. 

There are some ah-mazing communicators out there providing thoughtful, inspiring, and valuable crisis content—and instead of adding to the noise, we’ve decided to leave it to the experts.

As part of the new Bananatag Morning Show (airing live on LinkedIn every Wednesday and Friday at 9am PST), our very own Kyla Sims and Adam Brayford have been showcasing amazing insights from the most trusted, experienced, skilled communicators in the world. 

But in nearly every episode, an interesting theme keeps popping up: everything is not okay, and that’s okay. 

So how do we deal with all this not-okay stuff? How do we accept it and move forward?

Here is some advice from our experts:

Point #1 – It's business as unusual for everyone. And that's okay.

None of this is normal and no one is exempt. 

Every single person on planet earth right now is undergoing their own personal experience with this crisis. 

And it’s hard to manage your own experience, the onslaught of work that’s coming from every direction, and still empathize with the experiences of your colleagues so you can craft messages and policies that stay helpful and informative.

Rachel Miller of AllThingsIC, communications queen and mental health advocate, captured this sentiment beautifully on her Morning Show visit:

Rachel Miller

 

 

“We need to be so mindful that everybody is juggling with worrying. 

Even if you're not in a care role for elderly parents or children, nothing is the same at the moment. So it's important that our leaders show empathy and connect with our people."

Phoebe Dey, VP Communications & Marketing, Alberta Cancer Foundation pointed out that,

“It's a historic time where there isn't necessarily best practice that's been set. 

Different pockets of the world, different regions, different industries have faced crises or natural disasters and have learned to deal with those. 

But for the entire world to be going through something like this at the same time is unique to all of us.”

 

 Pheobe Dey

 

Point #2 – You might not be able to keep up with the pace of change. And that's okay.

Communicators have always had to balance proactive strategic work with reacting to change at breakneck speed. And now that’s been ramped up beyond what we thought we were even capable of. 

Kristin Hancock, employee engagement specialist (and coolest girl we know), summed it up wonderfully on her visit to the Morning Show:

 

Kristin Hancock

 

 

“This is not the same crisis it was yesterday; it's not the same crisis that it was two weeks ago. 

So adaptability I think is the other piece—knowing that the messaging you put out this morning might need to be changed, deleted, updated, in an hour.”

 

Point #3 – You're going to have difficult conversations. And that's okay.

Communicators have been playing the trusted advisor role for a long time. You know what needs to be said and how. But when a crisis hits, that trust and loyalty with your senior leadership can be tested. 

Especially when you have to bring up the hard things that no one else wants to say.

Jason Anthoine, communications savant and founder of Think Audacity pointed out this struggle during his Morning Show visit: 

“Even when we're not in the times that we're in right now, one of our roles is to be the conscience of the organization, which means where we're typically wearing two hats and constantly. 

So one hat is we represent the company and we share information with our employees from the company, but then we also wear this other hat, which is, we also represent our employees back to the leaders of the organization. 

And I think part of that role includes making sure that when decisions are being made and when leaders are trying to think about what to do and why to do it and how and when or even if, we play a big role there in making sure that that employee voice is being heard as part of those conversations.”

 

 Jason Anthione

 

Kristin Hancock echoed that sentiment during her visit and wasn’t shy about pointing out what’s at stake: 

Kristin Hancock

 

 

It's about making sure that you can have very difficult, honest conversations; getting comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

That's the state we're all in right now. The more we can put out messaging that acknowledges that, the better. 

Because there's this very personal side to this crisis. We see things shift almost every hour. 

At the very beginning of this, it was, ‘Okay, everyone, let's be careful and wash your hands.’  We still need to wash our hands, but it's really shifted. 

People are getting sick, people are dying, people are losing loved ones.”

Advita Patel, founder of Comms Rebel and brilliant communications specialist gave some excellent advice on how to navigate these uncomfortable conversations during her Morning Show visit:

“Put yourself in the shoes of that stakeholder. Try and understand what it is that they are trying to get out of it and remove the emotion from the situation. 

You generally find when leaders are getting a little bit angry, dismissive, or maybe a bit shouty, it's for a reason. 

You need to figure out what it is that they want from this. 

And then when you're having that conversation with them, be clear with your objectives and your outcomes. Back up your gut feeling with data measures where you can, explain quite clearly about why you're asking them to do something or why this is the right way to do something, and give them time to think about what you're saying.”

 

 Advita Patel

 

 

Point #4 – You will make mistakes. And that's okay.

The best laid communication plans can take a turn in the best of times, but right now, getting things ‘right’ feels like a roll of the dice.

Erika Migliaccio, Founder and Principal of UpstreamHR, gave some excellent advice during her visit to the Morning Show that really resonated with us:

Screen Shot 2020-05-11 at 11.11.42 AM

 

 

“Embrace the power of ‘apology’.

We're all going to slip up. We're all feeling stressed at some point. We're all going to snap and say something nasty that we really didn't mean. 

The best thing that we could do right now is just stop and apologize. 

And when someone apologizes to you, forgive them freely and just move on.

No one, none of us knows how to manage through this right now. We're going to have to figure it out together. 

And the thing that we can do is be open with the challenges, share ideas with each other, experiment, try things, fail, try again, learn and just support each other along the way.”

Erica Goodwin, Global Communications Manager and delightful human being at Heifer International, imparted some wisdom during her visit about how important it is to talk about these failures:

“We need success stories and case studies to know what to do. But we know that failure and missteps and mishaps and just hiccups are part of life. 

We need to talk about failure and how to be resilient and know that we all have these hiccups and missteps.”

 

 Erica Goodwin

 

Rachel Miller had some great suggestions around reframing this experience as not failures or mistakes, but as a period of learning: 

Rachel Miller

 

 

Speak with your employees, listen to your employees, ask them for advice and guidance now, in terms of is this working, is it not? 

This is an iterative situation...Continue to evolve your approach and test things out. 

I'm a big fan of pilots. If it doesn't work, it's fine, it was a pilot. 

This is the time to figure stuff out and learn as you go really, but just capture the lessons that you're learning so you can learn from this as well.”

 

Point #5 – You may need some help. And that is more than okay.

That’s why we started The Bananatag Morning Show -- join us every Wednesday and Friday at 9am PST/ 12pm EST on LinkedIn and hear from the most wonderful, smartest, coolest communicators in the biz, and ask them your questions about what comes next. 

And if you’d like to connect with them directly, why not join us in Comms-unity? It’s the most awesome slack community for internal communicators in the world, where we are collecting and connecting the most brilliant minds in communications. 

Apply to Join Comms-unity

The bottom line is, if you’re looking for help, we’ve got your back. We’re going to keep hustlin’ to connect you with the resources and insights you need to get through this thing. 

You got this and we’ve got you. 

Deep breaths.