But if you feel like you've had challenge after challenge and you're still wondering the best way to deliver those difficult messages, let's take a look at a few tactics you might use.
Set ExpectationsThis is the easiest way to communicate on difficult conversations. Often with those types of conversations, you don't have all the answers in front of you. When faced with that, many businesses make the mistake of assuming that since they know very little at that moment, they should wait until they have something conclusive to tell their audience. This is rarely a good idea.
Instead, explain what you do know in a very simple way without judgment or accusations. Explain what you still need to figure out to the best of your ability. Then let your audience know when you will have the information they want.
This type of communication is often used when an investigation is warranted. If something has happened in your business that is unsatisfactory but you don't know all of the details you would likely use this method of communication. Never wait for more info. Start shaping the conversation as soon as you are aware of an issue and assure people when you will know more. Then check back in with what you’ve uncovered.
Personalize it to Your BusinessInstead of using a broad general message that you stole from Starbucks or some other large brand, tailor what you're saying to your audience by tying it into your business or your customer base in some way. This business used both humor and personalization:
Do it QuicklyNobody wants to read upsetting news in novel form. They want to know immediately what's going on, how it will impact them, and what will happen in the future. If this information that you're putting together may change, tell them that. However, if you know that what you really need to tell them is unavoidable, don't give it to them in baby steps. For example, don't say you're shutting down because someone tested positive for COVID if you’re really planning on shutting down for good.
While you may not be ready to deliver the true information, a lie can impact your ability to connect to your customers in the future. Be as honest as you're able to be given the circumstances.
If you're communicating this announcement through email list, get right to the point. Don't spend 20 paragraphs talking about all the good things you remember. There's plenty of time for that later. If you're delivering bad news to someone, just give it to them.
Use HumorIf what you're communicating is merely unpleasant, but not devastating, you might consider using a humorous approach. A lot of businesses have adopted this form of communication when it comes to delivering messages about asking customers to wear a mask.
Put it Everywhere in Multiple-media Formats“I didn't know that,” is a common complaint when someone has been told bad news. That is why if you're delivering difficult information, you want to put it on every avenue you can think of such as:
- The top fold or banner of your website. You may even consider adding a pop up. If you choose to do a pop up, you don't want that to be your only choice since some people use very sophisticated pop-up blockers. But it is a good way to get the attention of most people.
- Live stream your news on Facebook.
- Add the video to Instagram.
- Place an announcement on LinkedIn if it's a formal announcement like a business closing or merger. If it's simply that you are shutting down for a few weeks due to COVID exposure, LinkedIn is not necessary.
- Notify the chamber of commerce. You should let them know because the chamber may refer people to you or may be able to help you navigate the difficulties you're communicating.
- Add it to your Facebook and Instagram stories.
- Send the information to your email list.
- Give a gift that reinforces the message.
2020 has been a communication challenge with many of us having to express feelings and News we hope to never talk about. but communicating with your audience is one of the most important things you can do to instill Trust and build a relationship. never withhold Disappointing information or a difficult message. In today’s hyper social world, it is difficult to keep information to yourself. If your customers hear about it from another way, the trust you’ve built with them will suffer.
Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so.
Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.