The world is currently experiencing a situation unlike any of us have ever experienced – or could ever have imagined. I was just talking on the phone with a friend the other night and we agreed that, if you would have asked us if we’d be in this situation a few months ago, we would have said you’re crazy. But here we are, folks.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been really overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m a very social person so sitting in my apartment is not an easy feat, but yet, it must be done. I often find myself heading online to stay districted, but it frequently makes me even more uneasy. Every time I log in to Facebook, there is a barrage of facts, figures and (MANY) opinions strewn across my timeline that, frankly, make me dizzy – and very anxious.
Social media is a wonderful way for us all to stay connected, which is especially true as we all hunker down to stop the spread of COVID-19. And while social media gives everyone a voice, that means it gives everyone a voice. Unfortunately, this leads to spreading of false information, rude or unnecessary comments and some general unpleasantry.
As communication pros, I personally feel we have an ethical duty to do our part to ensure calm, steady information is shared at all times, but especially in a crisis. We are tasked on behalf of our clients with convening conversations through social media, engaging with the media to promote initiatives and crafting content to share with stakeholders. Through these communications, we are shaping public dialogue, helping form opinions and spreading information. That’s a lot of pressure to get things right.
This is why I find it so incredibly important to take the time to ensure what we’re saying is factual and will do more good than harm. I think the PR industry gets a bad rep sometimes, which frankly, because of a few bad actors, I can see why.
At Sabo PR, as many of you know, we have an intense focus on crisis, litigation and issues management. You often see all the fun, exciting projects we are doing through social media, and we love those, but a lot of our best work never sees the light of day. So when COVID-19 hit, we were able to use our depth of knowledge to provide steady counsel to our clients.
Across every communication we’ve done since the pandemic began, we have been incredibly intentional in every single word we choose. We analyze and massage because we know how quickly what we write or say can be misconstrued. Just the other day, I was editing a beautifully written letter one of our team members wrote for an event cancellation, but she used the word “heartbroken,” which in some ways the client was because it was a labor of love. However, given thousands of people losing their loved ones to this vicious virus, it just didn’t seem appropriate to use in this context.
And while this paragraph is directed toward communication professionals, I think it applies to us all. Before you post, before you say a quip, before you share an opinion, think through what you are going to say and how it will affect those around you. Words are powerful. They change the world. They are a gift and a curse. They are the best tool we, as humans, have. So use them wisely.
I hope you all are staying safe and finding ways to cope. I know I, for one, am ready to all but dance in the streets (OK, let’s be honest, you may find me dancing in the streets) when this is done. But we’re doing the right thing. Hang in there, friends, and be good to one another.