Once Upon A Time – in the middle of a Coronavirus Crisis – there was a girl called Goldilocks.
Her school was closed because of the virus and she had no parents to tell her what to do.
And Goldilocks was too scared to ask the 3 bears for guidance after what happened last time.
But Goldilocks had access to the internet.
By visiting the news websites, Goldilocks found out that Coronavirus was killing lots of people around the world. It was scarier than any bears.
To discover what she should do to survive, Goldilocks searched out messages from world leaders.
THIS MESSAGE IS TOO SOFT
In the early days of the crisis Goldilocks found a message from the leader of the United States of America.
President Donald Trump said Coronavirus was something called “a hoax” caused by people called “Democrats”.
This reminded Goldilocks of that kid at school who never did his homework and who blamed everybody else when he was found out.
You can check out Mr Trump’s initial “hoax” message here.
Goldilocks watched the President’s message, checked the figures on the rising death toll and reached a conclusion.
“This message is too soft and silly,” she said.
When the death toll in America climbed higher and higher she felt that the message was softer and sillier still.
THIS MESSAGE IS TOO TOUGH
Later on, as the Corona Crisis further unfolded, Goldilocks tuned into a message from the ruler of a country in the Caribbean called Sint Maarten.
Prime Minister Silveria Jacobs complained that her people were not staying indoors – despite her government’s orders – and were not storing enough food for long periods of what she called “social isolation”.
Goldilocks was reminded of her out-of-control sports coach who, before the school was closed, ran around the pitch telling everyone off whenever they missed the ball – and then complained that their team never won a game.
You can check out Ms Jacobs’s message here:
Don’t have bread? Eat crackers: Watch this Caribbean PM chastise citizens who aren’t social distancing
Goldilocks studied the bit where Ms Jacobs tells people: “If you do not like the type of bread you have in your home, eat crackers.”
She thought Ms Jacobs was crackers.
Goldilocks didn’t like bread and didn’t like crackers. She preferred porridge.
She concluded: “This message is too tough and too scary”.
Goldilocks sighed heavily in front of her computer screen.
“What I need”, she declared, “is a message that’s not too soft and too silly – and not too tough and too scary.”
“I need a message that’s just right.”
Wouldn’t it be nice if – throughout the Coronavirus Crisis and beyond – all the messages you sent out were “Just Right”
MESSAGING IN A MINEFIELD
As Goldilocks and others struggle in a forest of message confusion, you may have discovered one of the less talked about side-effects of Coronavirus.
It’s the fact that you need to liaise with a large variety of people – many of them working from home, possibly like you – and send out lots of important messages on some really difficult topics.
These messages may be to suppliers, officials, clients, prospects, journalists and/or members of your own team.
Getting your messages right in a fast-moving crisis is a bit like calling out for help when you’re trapped in a minefield.
If you underplay the problems in the minefield, your messages will be too soft.
If you just tell everyone how bad they’re being by not rescuing you fast enough, your messages will be too hard.
You need to send out messages that are in the “Goldilocks Zone”.
You need messages that are “Just Right”.
GETTING YOUR MESSAGES JUST RIGHT
Getting your messages “Just Right” takes careful planning and preparation. My advice is to:
- Get into the minds of your target audiences in order to be able to persuade them to act in the right way.
- Seek the correct balance between factual and emotive content to maximise your chances of getting the right outcomes.
- Remember that excessive factual content can make your messages too dry and overwhelming. Excessive emotional content can make your messages appear manic and out-of-control.
- Ensure your messages contain a realistic sense of hope to keep people motivated and positively engaged – especially if you’re in a leadership role.
There are various ways I can help you and your team get your messages “Just Right” amidst the Coronavirus pressures:
- Crafting Your Written Communications: This includes help in drafting announcements, press releases, guidance on new ways of working, newsletters, social media posts, web pages etc. It typically involves initial discussions on the phone to identify the nature and needs of your target audiences, the details about information you’re seeking to convey and the outcomes you’re hoping to achieve. This is followed by email exchanges over successive drafts as we come up with the right wordings for your situation/s and for you. You must be perfectly happy with what you finally send out – but you are allowed help to get there.
- Guiding Your Verbal Communications: This includes help before important telephone calls, on-line conferences or recording video messages etc. After initial discussions to understand your challenges, it involves working with you to get the content, structure and delivery style of your messages “Just Right” for your challenging situations.
- “Messaging In A Minefield” Help Sessions: These are run over the telephone or on-line on Zoom or Skype. Sessions help participants tackle their immediate or forthcoming communications challenges. It means they can finish the session with drafts and scripts that have already been critiqued and stress-tested – and are ready to be launched into action. These sessions can be run for business leaders’ groups or for specific teams within your company.
- Communications-Boosting Workshops On The Phone And On Line: These sessions prepare participants for making announcements or answering the tough questions that arise from company initiatives. They can be run one-to-one or with groups of participants over the internet. The options are set out at: http://www.michaeldoddcommunications.com/michael-dodd-services/
If you’d like to discuss communications support – or guidance sessions for you or your team – send an email to line up a telephone chat on: firstname.lastname@example.org
Getting your messages out of the “Too Tough” zone – and out of the “Too Soft” zone – is something we can achieve when focused upon it.
Planning, preparation and practise helps get you there.
Getting your messages into the “Just Right” zone is something worth striving for to keep your business on the rails in difficult, fast-changing times.
Getting your messages “Just Right” will help you and your company navigate through the Coronavirus Crisis.
This applies whether you’re dealing with people or angry bears.
It also applies when communicating with people who act like angry bears.
But the right communication approach can help turn angry bears into happy bears.
Getting your messages “Just Right” will help you communicate happily ever after.