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A study analyses the impact of COVID-19 on corporate communication

A study analyses the impact of COVID-19 on corporate communication

Corporate leadership must manage internal communication transparently, with the utmost clarity, calmly and with empathy. So states an article published on 20 April by Jordi Xifra, full professor of the Department of Communication, in the journal El profesional de la información.

05.05.2020

Imatge inicial

The COVID-19 crisis has tested many processes specific to social structures. Corporate communications and public relations are examples of these processes that face an unprecedented situation that was difficult to foresee and from which some lessons must be learned for the future.

Jordi Xifra, full professor of the Department of Communication at UPF is the author of an article entitled: “Comunicación corporativa, relaciones públicas y gestión del riesgo reputacional en tiempos del COVID-19”, published on 20 April in the journal El profesional de la información.

According to the author, the COVID-19 crisis has tested many processes specific to social structures, including corporate communication and the management of reputational risk. In this article, a mixture of research and testing, data from the first investigations carried out by leading multinational communication agencies and independent research institutes are pooled. These studies mainly focus on issues of corporate leadership, internal communication and corporate social responsibility.

The main conclusions of the research, all of which deal with data from the first weeks of the pandemic and how it has affected the business world, are as follow:

  • The COVID-19 crisis should highlight, now more than ever, that the public is one thing and the markets are another.  
  • Managing internal communication also becomes a matter of corporate social responsibility, as the level of external public confidence in companies and brands depends on how they have dealt with labour issues during the crisis. Hence, in times of fear like those of COVID-19, corporate leadership must manage internal communication transparently, with the utmost clarity, calmly and with empathy.  
  • Tactical or non-empathic decisions will have an adverse effect on corporate reputation. These first weeks of the health crisis are the time of emotion, compassion and actions as elements of corporate communications. Therefore, reputational risk management should prevail over publicity stunts.  
  • Advertising campaigns by major brands still try to sell through emotional discourse where there is no room for creativity.  
  • In these exceptional circumstances, traditional media (especially TV and radio) become safe havens, that is, like gold or the dollar in the economic field, they are the media that generate greatest confidence. The proliferation of rumours and fake news also contributes to this phenomenon.

“Once the COVID-19 crisis is under control, researchers in corporate communication should prioritize their investigations on how the organizations involved in the crisis have acted and how their actions have affected their reputation”, Xifra concludes in his article.

Related work: 

Jordi Xifra (2020), "Comunicación corporativa, relaciones públicas y gestión del riesgo reputacional en tiempos del COVID-19", 20 d'abril, vol. 22, núm. 2, pàgs: 1-18, El profesional de la información. https://doi.org/10.3145/epi.2020.mar.20

This article has been considered relevant so it has been indexed by the WHO:

 https://search.bvsalud.org/global-literature-on-novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov/resource/en/covidwho-115576 

e-Repositori UPF: http://hdl.handle.net/10230/44516

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Unitat de Comunicació i Projecció Institucionals

Unidad de Comunicación y Proyección Institucionales

Institutional Communication and Promotion Unit