A crisis like the current Covid-19 pandemic is fertile ground for misinformation and communication missteps. Right now, with so many firms’ offices closed and staff members working remotely, there are some important communication best practices to follow to keep employees informed, ease concerns, build trust, and keep business moving forward.
Of vital importance for mass tort law firms is consistent, concrete communication from leadership to all stakeholders. In fact, it’s a business imperative, largely because, in the absence of information, people will make it up. Therefore, it is important to communicate often and provide relevant updates on cases or company news.
Be timely and frequent
In rapidly changing situations, it’s important to share information in a timely manner, as often as needed. You might not have all the answers immediately, but start with what you know today and build from there as updates become available. Frequency helps build trust, closes information gaps, and reduces speculation. Your audiences will be assured that they will hear from you about what they need to know. This also requires a commitment from leadership to stay on top of the situation in order to share new information appropriately.
Bear in mind that claimants may fall into higher risk categories for Covid-19 and may be more anxious and perhaps more isolated than many others. They may also be dealing with income challenges right now. Staying in touch with claimants and getting them answers to their questions will provide assurance that you are on top of the case and understand their frustrations or concerns.
This isn’t the time for long, complex communications. Keep it brief with the “need to know” facts and communicate more frequently.
Discuss what you are doing as a company to help people and your employees and focus on the positive where possible. Share an inspiring story about an employee’s community outreach endeavor or an organization the firm supports, or talk about positive developments with current cases.
Although you need to think about all stakeholders prioritize communication to your employees first. They are your frontline ambassadors and, during uncertain times, can be helpful in communicating to your other audiences (clients, colleagues or claimants). Tell them what you want them to know (as often as you need to), as well as what you want and don’t want them to do.
PUBLIC IS PUBLIC: Once you establish your employee message, use it as your firm’s public message. Doing so keeps communications consistent, and avoids having mixed or multiple messages.
In these days of Covid-19, face-to-face communication has been halted. Video is the next best thing. It needn’t be formal or done with expensive equipment. Authentic communication puts a human face on your firm’s news and information.
Monitor social media
Nervous or eager claimants may take to social media to complain if they are not getting any answers about their case—especially during a crisis event. Designate an individual within the firm (if you do not retain PR counsel) to monitor social media platforms, look for any online mentions of the firm, and check online reviews. If there are comments on the firm’s pages, respond when appropriate. If someone posts something that is factually incorrect, correct it diplomatically. Demonstrate that you care and answer questions with available facts; if you do not have all the answers, convey that you will provide updates as they become available. Once the issue is addressed on social media, take the conversation offline to control your message.
Dealing with the media
If someone from the media calls for any reason, follow these three rules for managing the press in a crisis:
- Be the first to tell your story – have a designated spokesperson to deliver your message
- Be truthful – this is not the time for spin
- Be prepared – be clear about what you will and can say; always reply, even if you cannot provide comment
For more information on communicating with your remote workforce and managing firm communications during a crisis, please call us at 888.681.1129, fill out this form or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will reply immediately.