Communication Lessons from 2020

2020 has presented leaders and organisations with many challenges and few easy answers. Covid-19 has forced businesses to communicate complex issues to diverse audiences, confronted with an intense spotlight and the devastating economic impacts of national lockdowns all over the globe. While a number of organisations have handled the crisis competently and some have even thrived, others have failed, damaging their reputations and businesses.

As we near the end of what can only be described as an unprecedented extraordinary year, Whitehouse looks at five key communication lessons which can be learnt.

  1. Expansion

This year has seen organisations opening their wallets and digging deep to increase their communications budgets. Through the expansion of communication platforms and social media channels, organisations are able to give themselves a voice that reaches the masses. Overcommunicating this year has been no bad thing.

Diversifying expanding communications has been another key component of successful strategies. From webinars to video-centric social media platforms, finding creative and innovate ways to communicate is an essential lesson learnt from 2020.

  1. Two-way communication

Building and sustaining communication has been paramount during a year that saw most employees cut off from physical communication with their colleagues and employers.

As people were confronted with the challenges of working remotely, organisations forged new ways to communicate with their employees, clients and customers. Online meetings, virtual conferences and e-networking have proved to be vital tools for sustained employee and client engagement throughout the pandemic. This communication naturally works both ways: tools to track employee feedback have soared during the course of this year and ‘self-care’ offerings in employment packages are now commonplace.

  1. Follow the leader

All eyes have been on the leaders and top executives of companies navigating the difficulties of this year. As the politicians in the UK and US give regular televised briefings to the nation, this year has stressed the importance of consistent contact between a company’s stakeholders and its leaders.

Essential to a successful communications strategy in the face of a crisis is driven key messaging and a demonstration of aligned leadership at the top of a company.  Many companies hired consultancies or individuals to overcome the difficulties of communication, pushing precise and timely messages and positioning the company as an accurate and responsible source for information.

  1. Plans for plans for plans

When an emergency occurs, the reputation and stability of a company is put at risk instantly and the need to communicate to all key audiences is immediate. This has only been emphasised in a year when so many organisations and workers faced a global crisis.

In the future, a pandemic crisis plan will be an essential component of any communications strategy. As we have seen this year, no matter the size, age or legacy of the company, it is vulnerable to a crisis making robust and efficient planning all the more significant.

  1. Restart

Finally, the pandemic has presented an opportunity for companies to take a step back and evaluate, reformulate and, in some cases, completely scrap their entire communications strategy.

Leaders must look at what is working, what isn’t and closely analyse stakeholder priorities and needs, following a pandemic which has completely changed the face of the economic and social business landscape.

The Whitehouse team are experts in the impact of global crises, providing crisis communications, risk management and public affairs advice to a wide range of clients, not only in the United Kingdom, but also across the member states of the European Union. For more information, please contact our Chair, Chris Whitehouse, at