Where do we go from here? Follow the sun

We have a client caught in COVID-19. It’s not behaving well, claims the CEO, who has been juggling duties and 12- to 14-hour days since mid-March.

His email responses come in rat-tat-tat spurts – thanks for the help. Messaging worked. Talk on Thursday – occupied, as is any company leader today, with the task of managing today and thinking about tomorrow.

For the time being, what we know is that we cannot see the horizon. It reminds me of a trip to Big Sur, sitting on the deck at the iconic Nepenthe restaurant, with virtually no visibility

whatsoever. We were in the fog. We could hear the waves of the Pacific crash on the rocks below.


We knew what was there. We just couldn’t see it … until, slowly, the sun began to emerge … the most glorious site I think I have ever seen opened up before us. There were cows grazing in fields that ran right up to the coast, and the surf pounded the rocks and a hummingbird danced right in front of me, tasting the sweetness of the bougainvillea growing on the wooden bar where we sat.

As communications professionals, our job is to be the sun; to burn away the fog that COVID has placed on businesses and organizations and provide strategy and solutions to help guide a company through this very uncertain time.

With our client, we constantly remind them of those critical audiences that are important and need information, reassurance, and in some cases, the right tone and words when delivering unexpected, unfortunate news at the worst possible time.

Our client has an “essential operations plan,” part financial, part operational that is serving them well, despite my concerns that an Ouija Board may be as valuable when it comes to predicting the immediate future. But the takeaway here is they have a plan they are working and revising as the sun occasionally peeks between the fog to give them some encouragement that there are better times ahead.

Optimism is a keyword for practitioners in strategic communications. We always believe that the best times are over the horizon. We don’t know what we don’t know, but with careful planning and strategic communications activities to ward off the Ouija spirits, this fog will lift, too.

For communicators, we must be looking through the fog to lead our clients toward the horizon and into what normal looks like next.