Leadership Communications In A Crisis
The Communicate Influence PodcastApril 29, 202000:35:3724.5 MB

Leadership Communications In A Crisis

This week's episode is a must-listen for leadership and corporate communications staff working with leaders.

Bob Pickard, a globally recogized PR consultant, discusses the importance of leaders tuning into the emotion of stakeholders, especially during a crisis, and they must lead and communicate in response to those emotions.

You can't lead without strong communication skills

"The emotion of the moment has become far more important than the logic, or the word of text," explains Bob.

"If you were to ask me 'What is the one thing I would say about trends in leadership communication that everybody should remember?' it would be this: State of the art in corporate communications is having your leader take the organization forward with communication that’s authentic, empathetic, and convincing, striking the right real-time emotional cord.

"I recommend to my clients who are leaders that they begin almost anything they say with an acknowledgement of some sort of shortcoming, or some problem they are trying to overcome, and that immediately not only commands the attention of the audience, it establishes the credibility of the leader tackling a tough one authentically."

The emotion of the moment is fear

Based in Toronto, Bob recently commissioned Signal to research the use of the terms communication, leadership, and crisis. Those three words, as well as the word "fear” appeared together in more than 30,000 articles in March. That number had more than tripled compared to the previous three months.

"The global level of fear had gone through the roof," notes Bob. "And leadership and communication were intimately connected. This fear was driving a need for leadership that offers clear and open communication.

"People feel fear about job loss, loss of home, or loss of family, or loss of a loved one. This is evidence of increased salience of the whole concept of leadership communication. That’s what people want at a moment of crisis. Leadership is synonymous with communication.

Understanding the strategic value of PR

A CEO has to understand the power of PR and the strategic value of corporate communications as a strategic asset . . .Today, leadership and communications are almost seen as synonymous. You can't be a good leader unless you're a fluid and convincing communicator.

Speaking about the 2020 pandemic, Bob says the focus for leaders must be on the emotion of fear that many are feeling. "Leaders need to respond well to this and give a sense of direction.

"This is evidence of increased salience of the whole concept of leadership communication. That’s what people want at a moment of crisis. Leadership is synonymous with communication.

Prepare for the next crisis

Bob strongly advises leaders and communicators to prepare for next crisis. "After COVID-19 it is no longer optional to tune in to the wavelength of public sentiment at that moment. The communicator advising should provide the right guidance about how to communicate as a real-time leader, and to constantly be aware of where public sentiment is at. Leaders must calibrate and adjust tonality accordingly.

Find Bob Pickard on LinkedIn and at Bobpickard.com

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