When crisis hits, communication is the antidote to fear.

The following thoughts were shared by Cliff McDonald, a colleague and CEO of BrainHeart Growth. Reprinted with his permission.

When we face new and uncertain situations, we typically react in one of three ways:

1. Fight
2. Flight
3. Freeze

Option two, Flight, is not great. But the worst choice we can make is option three: Freeze. In the business world and the new coronavirus moment we are living in, option three looks like having no deliberate communication with your employees or an existing customer base. 

We have all been guilty of “under-communicating” at some point in our personal lives, typically when someone we know or care about is going through a trying time. We don’t know the right move to make, so we do the worst thing possible…nothing at all. A good college friend of mine lost his father during our junior year. To this day, I regret my weak response to his suffering. I froze because I didn’t have a playbook for that moment, for his situation. There are certain times when none of us know what to do—and this is one of them.

In this scenario, no news is NOT good news. We need to err on the side of over-communicating, even if the message is not perfect. It’s the effort that counts here. These messages need to be emotional, real, authentic, and memorable. I think we call this personalization… or being human.

Many of us don’t have a PR department or a communications director. But you can find the best writer in your company and have them draft a letter to your customers. Do it soon, get it edited, ask three people who you respect for their advice on it, and send it out. Be human, be real. Be imperfect.

Don’t freeze. It’s worth repeating. It’s the effort that counts, and it’s important that you take action now.


For more help navigating the coronavirus outbreak, visit our resource and information center.

Skimmed it? Here’s the recap:

–If your options are fight/flight/freeze, avoid freeze at all costs
–Reach out to your customers or employees and communicate about the current situation
–Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. Now is the time to say something.