COVID-19 Crisis Communications grief model

We developed these communications tips for coping with COVID-19 crisis after recognizing the classic stages of grief in our clients’ and our own responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether you’re a communicator, an executive in a decision-making role or a citizen trying to do your part, we all need to get from Denial to Acceptance in order to cope with the tough calls, and even tougher consequences, of this global pandemic.

COVID-19 Crisis Communications grief model
Click to enlarge. Link to download PDF below.

These COVID-19 crisis communications tips in the graphic below will help you spot the stages and move your communities and stakeholders through that grieving process.  This includes employees, colleagues, neighbors, family, constituents, customers, clients or patients.

The tips will also help you spot some of the psychological traps that might impact your decision making or how your messages are received. If we’re going to flatten the curve in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, we need to impact people’s beliefs and attitudes so they accept and stick with the massive behavior changes needed to save lives.

Even as people come to Acceptance,  we recognize that fear and anxiety will be the predominant emotions in our communities. For these, here are some more conventional crisis communications principles to apply:

  • Err on the side of communicating too frequently—especially with employees who are working remotely or laid off.
  • Focus on fact-based messages and have one single point of truth and spokesperson so information is consistent.
  • Meet your audiences where they are: on social media, email and the web.
  • Stay in your lane: defer to the expertise of public health officials and policymakers.
  • Create feedback mechanisms for concerned stakeholders and be responsive to or, at minimum, show empathy even if you do not have answers.
  • Be clear in all communications that the situation may change abruptly.

All of us at (W)right On Communications are incredibly concerned for our clients, communities and friends and family. We are standing strong with our client partners and doing our part to help one another through these coming weeks and months, including social distancing through telecommuting.

Please stay home, shop local and give what you can to your neighborhood nonprofits. And if there is anything we can do to assist you or your organization during these unprecedented and unpredictable times, let us know at We will make it work. It’s what we all have to do.

Download a PDF of our tips: COVID-19 Crisis Communications Tips.pdf (3391 downloads )

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1 Comment

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    Communications Tips for Coping with the COVID-19 Crisis – (W)right On Communications

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