With an entire nation desperate for answers, clear, cohesive and continuous messaging from the leader is of the utmost importance.
A crisis can come without warning, and when it does it pays to be prepared with effective and strategic communication skills.
With all eyes on New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, she couldn’t afford to mess up – especially during an election year.
Looking into Jacinda Ardern’s response during the Covid-19 crisis, it goes without saying that the Kiwi mother is giving many other world leaders a run for their money.
So, what can businesses learn from how Ardern has handled the coronavirus pandemic?
- Demonstrate empathy whilst remaining directive
In a crisis action needs to happen, but it is important to not lose sight of how this will affect individuals’ lives.
Throughout her live conferences, Ardern demonstrates empathy by acknowledging that what she is asking for will disrupt people’s daily lives and be a challenge for the country as a whole.
Jumping on Facebook the night of the lockdown announcement to do a livestream in her pyjamas to “check in” on NZ citizens was an effective way for Jacinda to show the public that she cares and that we truly are ‘all in this together’.
- Always be truthful, honest and open
Transparency is key throughout crisis management, especially with many speculative people looking for reasons to fault or expose you.
Jacinda has remained forthcoming with information and honest when she does not have an exact answer, so as to not create confusion and spread misinformation, while the government’s alert level framework provides transparency for the public about what is happening and why.
- Frequent and cohesive communication
The message to New Zealanders to “Stay home and save lives” combines an imperative with a purpose, motivating and reminding the public what we are doing this for.
Jacinda has aligned her messages with the publics’ needs and communicates regularly with updates and explanations on what is happening and what the government are doing/will do to protect the interests of the people.
Repetition of simple key messages is vital in ensuring there isn’t any confusion about what the public needs to do or keep in mind. ‘Stay Home, Save Lives’ along with clear and concise messaging around social distancing and washing hands, is being repeatedly broadcast on the radio, television and on news sites.
Regular 30 minute live conferences, an active Instagram and Facebook live streams are just some of the ways Jacinda has remained available and present throughout the crisis.
- Get personal
Jacinda has not been afraid to let the public in during the crisis, by exposing parts of her private life, something many other world leaders avoid. By being so aloof, other world leaders tend to create a divide between themselves and the people of their nation.
Through posting images of her DIY working from home set up and talking about how she misses seeing and interacting with people; she is being very human and opening up on a more personal level, subsequently allowing the public to trust that she too will adhere to the rules she has asked us to follow.