Communicating Core Values During Tough Times

Hotbed Media shares guidance on staying true to your values as you communicate with customers and employees.

Have you participated in a “core values” discussion with your company recently? If the answer is yes, it’s certainly centered around current events. Here’s a great description by the National Parks Service titled What are core values? In good times, core values confirm and guide our employees, and articulate what we believe in and how we approach decisions. Publicly, they serve as a banner in the field, showing what we want the public to assume about us.

During tough times, core values are a comfort, a reminder, and a touchstone for what we strive for, what we expect, and how we will care.

In an ever-changing world, core values are constant.

When business changes – like what’s happening today – we craft contingencies in how we operate, how we communicate or interact with the public. This guidance for business and employers responding to COVID-19 is important. There may be the urge to modify our values while we’re at it but resist the urge! From heads of state to heads of a department, studies like this from the BBC titled Covid-19: What makes a good leader during a crisis? have shown that having consistency and stability in values messaging not only instills public and team confidence but also grows it.

Living out your core values is the key. 

 Like it or not, your organization will get an opportunity to live your values. Chances are, it’s already happened. Now is not the time to discard the ones that are inconvenient. Worse, acting in opposition to your values – anytime – can usher in considerable consequences. This article from Corporate Board Member is an excellent read featuring 2017’s United Airlines Flight 3411 incident as a key teaching point.  Conversely, there’s been good news of organizations living their values as they deal with customers whose needs or means have changed significantly – and meeting them where they are.

Keep communications about values simple for customers, deep for employees.

Many companies are still finding their way in showing their public and their staff how they care. At the beginning of March, it was all about saying “we’re here for you.” Since then, businesses have tried different approaches in demonstrating that caring – but with mixed results. Use your core values to communicate to the public - but keep it simple. Don’t list how you plan to sanitize and re-arrange services, or how significantly you’ve had to change. We’re all burned out as it is! Instead consider short, focused bits of information, using your values as pillars.

When you’re communicating your core values out to your employees, do the opposite. Make it specific. Make it actionable. Don’t sugar coat or avoid. Take steps to keep people aware of changes, maintain and manage performance expectations, and be ready to dive into detail if needed. Basically, take the values and bring them into the daily communications you deploy to staff. It’ll keep morale up, bring the whole team into the “situation room,” and aligns you all in the mission. As this article states, “Employees can be a company’s biggest source of advocates and influencers. Treat them right and provide them with guidance, and they will share the love, not only with friends and family, but on social media and beyond, strengthening brand reputation organically.”

Hotbed Media can help you communicate.

We specialize in bringing clarity and power to companies with a message to convey and a story to tell. Whether it’s through video production or some other way, it helps to have a partner who sees you from the outside, but can also embed with you to gain an internal perspective. We can distill your message down to the most important, impactful points and create memorable messages with greater recall.

How is your business leading with core values this year? How can Hotbed Media help?