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All Action and No Talk? How Communications Strengthens the Impact of Tech’s COVID-19 Response Efforts

Kelsey Quickstad

Hotwire has over 20 years of igniting possibilities for tech businesses. Hear our expert views and insights from our team on the latest developments in the industry.

The term “beating your chest” has long been associated with touting your own dominance. In reality, gorillas in the wild also do this to warn others when they perceive a threat or danger. The purpose of the act can be to serve a greater good and protect those around you from impending danger.

In many cases, people and companies are averse to talking directly about the good things they are doing. They don’t want to be seen “beating their chest” or “tooting their own horn.” As a transplant to Minnesota and someone who works in strategic communications for tech companies, I can tell you this approach dominates here to an extent not seen elsewhere. And, it’s become even more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Many, many organizations jumped into action. But, action supported by strong communications has the power to inspire even more good. Plus, it instills greater confidence and trust among your company’s key audiences – and that’s how even better businesses are built.

On a daily basis, we see companies all over the world pivoting their business models, making large donations and doing their part to minimize the impact of COVID-19. Minnesota companies have pitched in to address the pandemic – from Fortune 500s like 3M producing respirators and Target working on a symptom screener, to the agile startups like SupDoc providing free virtual healthcare for essential workers.

Companies have clearly put plans into action but have missed a crucial step: broadly communicating what they are doing. And even more surprising companies seem to be purposefully not saying anything at all. Why is it so taboo to talk about the good we’re doing? There is a time for “chest beating.” And a way to communicated what is being done, what is working and what isn’t, that isn’t self-serving.

When faced with the hesitation around communications on action around COVID-19, leaders need to recognize that talking about the good they’re doing has the power to both make their efforts more impactful and to breed more good.

Luckily, most companies now have seasoned, internal taskforces in place, made up of cross-functional leaders from HR, Operations, Finance, Communications and beyond. This team, pulled together for the initial pandemic crisis, should continue leading the efforts. However, let Communications have a heavy hand. COVID-19 plans are being analyzed not just to understand how workers are being kept safe, but to also understand the potential impact on their families and the larger communities. Your employees, customers, investors, and the community at large are all scrutinizing these plans to see how committed businesses are to their stated values. We want to know just how much the world has changed in the last two months.

There is opportunity here – to show up as leaders for your communities and share insight people are hungry for in so much uncertainty. In Minnesota, many companies looking to restart operations must now develop public COVID-19 Preparedness Plan. This is a forcing function, but businesses are being called to help – and share –  more than ever. Communicating what you are seeing, transparently and timely, is helpful. It’s the right thing to do.