Communications in the time of Coronavirus

As a communicator, something I find really interesting to observe is how communications can change over time, or during a particular period. Looking at the interactions that I’m seeing across social media and IRL this week there are definite trends appearing as people continue to talk to each other during the current coronavirus situation.

  1. Authentic communications or ‘authentic me’

  2. I would never have expected to see pictures of lawyers’ kids, dogs, cats, kitchens and home work spaces pre-lockdown. Now they are so commonplace as to be barely worth noting. However, the increase in these images, and conversations around what we would previously have called our ‘private lives’ are worth commenting upon because they have gone from being extraordinary to completely normal, in the space of less than a week.

If you stop for a moment and consider what I’ve just said – isn’t that bonkers? And isn’t it also a slightly negative reflection on our society. Many of us have kids – why have we felt that we’ve had to hide them away until now? Or do I simply feel this more keenly as a business person AND a mother – has it only become acceptable now that the dads have joined in and started to run with it? *Controversial statement alert*

I think the movement towards openness is broadly a good thing. Showing a bit of your personality, private life and interests away from work can only make you appear more human. And at the moment, when so many of us feel vulnerable, scared and uncertain about the future, it’s our relationships that will help to see us through the next few weeks and months.

Recognition that the tough times are coming

Having tracked Italy’s coronavirus trajectory and now watching Spain’s struggles with great sadness, it’ is clear what will hit the UK in probably around a week’s time. As a family (oh there I go again, talking about my double life as a wife and mother) we have been on lock-down since the schools closed on Friday 20th. It has just seemed like the right thing to do.

Last week it felt dirty or inappropriate to even consider business, or selling or marketing, or anything other than just panic buying loo roll. However, that immediate panic and inability to make strategic decisions has now passed. I’m now seeing a cool-headed logic with clients and others that I’m speaking to, who are:

a) recognising and accepting that tough times are en route for business and more importantly for people, as this huge tragedy grows and grows both globally and here in our hospitals and homes.

b) acceptance though that for many, if not most of us, life will go on

c) planning – for the times when things do start to get back to something resembling what we knew before.

For me, a relentlessly and annoyingly optimistic person (yes I’ve had a lot of wobbles though recently), a through to c is the only approach to take. We could catastrophise and worry, but ultimately – how does that help? Recognition, acceptance and planing is currently my mantra and it feels good to feel at least feel in control of how I approach the days and weeks ahead.

Sensitivity and appropriateness

Although my personal view is that it’s fine to be preparing for the future and, where possible, to exercise a ‘business as usual’ headspace, I’m also very conscious of the need to be sensitive and appropriate. As somebody who runs a business, I’m naturally always looking for new product lines, different ideas for courses, or novel ways to do things. And whilst I wouldn’t say I’m permanently on ‘the hustle’, I do like good ideas and exciting projects where I can see how these will benefit our clients and the business.

However, at the moment, when our amazing NHS and key workers are doing such a sterling job, I recognise that not everybody has the same mindset, and that for some, even thinking in terms of sales pipelines, profit and loss and cashflow is simply wrong and distateful.

So I suppose my point here really is that in my opinion, it’s fine to start to plan ahead and it’s probably sensible to review your marketing, and definitely consider how you are going to hit the ground running when all of this passes – but just be considerate, and remember that not everybody is in that mindset yet, or indeed ever.

LexRex Communications is a specialist PR and  communications consultancy serving the UK legal market. LexRex works with boutique law firms, challenger businesses and legal innovators across the UK.

Victoria Moffatt is the founder and managing director of LexRex Communications, and a former solicitor.

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