How we communicate has changed dramatically since the Covid-19 pandemic and since social distancing measures have been put in place. No more in-person events, meetings and much more online communication. How can you adapt to these changes? We’ve put together some tools, tips and guidelines to help.
How to communicate regularly
Email: You can keep in touch with your users/followers via email using Mailchimp. This is free to use up to 2000 subscribers and allows you to create visual newsletters and emails. Be careful not to overwhelm your audience with emails, with emails no more than once a week.
See also this useful article from UK Web Host Review, exploring alternatives to Mailchimp. Read more.
Social Media: Create accounts for the social media channels that make sense for your audience. Hootsuite is a free scheduling tool that allows you to schedule your social media posts across three platforms. Aim to post on social media at least once a day.
Website: Make sure your website is up to date with accurate contact details and your most recent activities. If you have a specific call or campaign you’d like to highlight, make sure it is on your homepage and visible to your audience. Don’t have a website? Start with WordPress or Wix.
How to communicate inclusively
Inclusive communications are communications that include, accurately portray, and are accessible to disabled people. One in five people in the UK consider themselves as a disabled person. ‘Disabled people’ are not a homogenous group and come from all walks of life.
Below are some resources and guidelines for communication inclusively:
- Use alt-tags / caption any images used to ensure all audiences can understand the image
- Any videos used will need subtitles
- Use infographics – key points summarised with a simple image / graph/ shape
- Don’t put text over images
- Use a variety of contact points: Email, telephone (for people who are not online), website, social media
- Use simple language, do not over complicate text, don’t use acronyms
- Use clear and concise headlines
- See more for printed and digital material and a list of a list of correct / collective terminology
- The best way to embed inclusive communications across your organisation is to develop an inclusive communications policy that clearly sets out your commitment to inclusion.
- Conducting an audit of your existing communications is a good starting point to assessing where you are in terms of accessibility and inclusion and what you need to plan for future communications.
- Consider accessible formats: Accessible PDF and Word documents, audio versions, British Sign Language, large print, subtitling, telephone, translation services and more
- W3C provides an ‘easy check’ overview which allows you to assess whether you think your current website is accessible or not. It is a great starting place for understanding web accessibility but be aware that your website could pass these checks and still not be fully accessible.
- Using design to improve accessibility
How to engage on social media
During this time, social media will most probably be the tool you use to engage the most with your audience. With such a wide reach, it is a great way to communicate with your audience.
- Channels: The most popular platforms are Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. Don’t feel like you have to post on all of them. Choose the channels where your audience are and that you can easily use. See this blog for the different channels and what they’re used for: 10 Types of Social Media and How Each Can Benefit Your Business.
- Strategy and guidelines: Hootsuite offers a range of free resources and guidelines for using social media. See Eight easy steps to develop your social media presence, Add an Instagram business profile, 5 Best Practices for Your LinkedIn Page, Social Media Strategy Template
- Fundraising:If you are trying to raise funds for your charity, these are some great tips: 12 tips on social media advertising for charities during COVID-19
- Communication, and especially online communication, is very visual so it helps to have great looking graphics on your social media and website platforms. Canva is a graphic design platform that allows users to create social media graphics, presentations, posters and other visual content. It is available on web and mobile, and integrates millions of images, fonts, templates and illustrations.
- When designing, make sure you are showcasing your brand by using your brand colours, brand fonts and your logo.
- Another free tool is Piktochart, where you can create beautiful infographics, flyers, posters, presentations and reports easily with absolutely no design experience.
- For copyright free images, try Unsplash, pixabay, pexels or pikwizard.
Online meetings and chat
- There are a number of free platforms which can help you keep in touch with your team.
- Zoom: Zoom is a cloud-based video conferencing service you can use to virtually meet with others – either by video or audio-only or both, all while conducting live chats – and it lets you record those sessions to view later. Also see how to make a Zoom background for your supporters
- Skype: Free online calls, messaging, affordable international calling to mobiles or landlines and Skype for Business for effective collaboration.
- Google hangouts: Use Google Hangouts to keep in touch with one person or a group. Available on mobile or on desktop, you can make video or voice calls.
What about GDPR and data protection?
Groups may need to handle sensitive personal information and share it with others during Covid19. And that means taking account of data protection law. Here are some guidelines:
- Keep it clear: You should be clear, open and honest with people about what you are doing with their personal information
- Keep sharing: Data protection law does not prevent you sharing personal information where it is appropriate to do so
- Keep it lawful: If you’re not sure whether you should be handling personal data, think about whether it falls into one of the following categories:
- Would the person expect me to use their information in this way (legitimate interests)?
- Have they given me their clear and unambiguous consent to use their personal information (consent)?
- Is the person’s health or safety at risk if I don’t use their personal data (vital interests)?
- Keep it secure: You must look after the personal data you collect. That means keeping it secure on a device – which can be your own – or in a locked cabinet, for example.
- Keep it to a minimum: Only use and keep what you need to provide help to vulnerable people during the COVID-19 crisis.
- Keep a record of what you’ve done: You should keep a record of any decisions you make that involve the use of personal information.
Also see the following from Hope&May: Data protection and Coronavirus: If your staff are working remotely, you may need to create new procedures and consider how extra care may be taken to secure information.
Useful online comms resources and hubs
Charity Digital: Our sector has been hugely affected by the coronavirus outbreak, and many charities have had to accelerate the digital initiatives that were days, months or years in the making. Our evolving COVID-19 resource hub will help you get your team set up remotely, launch virtual fundraising campaigns, deliver your services online and much more. Also from Charity Digital: Coronavirus: Tech offers available to charities
Small Charities Coalition: Free Communications Support from a number of people and organisations
The Community PR Initiative: A group of volunteer PR practitioners have launched an initiative to provide free communications support to charities and public sector organisations that are struggling against the background of coronavirus, lockdown and staff on furlough.