All successful brands have one thing in common ­– they know how to talk to their target audience. While a strong communication management strategy is important anytime, it’s essential in a crisis.

During COVID-19, some companies immediately stepped up to send a message – not just with words, but with action. For instance, Inditex, clothing retailer Zara’s parent company, started making scrubs for hospitals. Their prompt action showed leadership skills and support for the community.

Constructive business communication allows people to see the human side of brands.

Here are six tips for communication in a crisis:

Create a crisis team:  Many departments are involved in the overall functioning of an organization, including sales, human resources and more. A spokesperson from each department should be part of a crisis team that agrees on a message that will be sent out.

Connect with customers: As a business, you can’t afford to stay silent during a crisis like COVID-19. Your consumers want to hear from you.

But don’t try to sell them stuff: This isn’t the time for self-promotion. Business communication during lockdown should focus on reassuring and empowering people, appreciating front-line workers and sharing useful information. By connecting with people, you’re boosting the credibility of your brand.

Make a difference: During COVID-19, some companies planned initiatives to help front-line workers. For instance, Paramount Fine Foods, based out of Toronto, sent food to the emergency department of St. Michael’s hospital.

Give reliable updates: Misinformation is rampant during a crisis, and you must make sure that you’re sharing accurate information. As an organization, you have the responsibility to stay informed. When talking about COVID-19, share reliable data sourced by health authorities.

Communicate with employees, too: When your staff is working from home, they can feel disconnected from company policies and operations. Send out regular updates on vital issues, including health policies, salary changes and government guidelines.

Effective communication is more important than ever. The online Bachelor of Arts in Business Communication at University Canada West (UCW) provides the knowledge and skills you need for a career in communications, public relations or advertising.