Now that December has dawned, corporate communicators will soon find themselves facing a yearly task: creating a holiday message from the c-suite to employees. In years past, this was generally an easy task (“At this festive time of year, we wish you and yours…”), this year calls for more.
The 2020 edition of the holiday message needs to be sensitive and crafted with care.
Employees have dealt with a number of professional issues over the past four quarters, adjusting to new styles of work, new assignments, new regimens, tech nightmares, longer hours, potentially dangerous environments (especially in healthcare), parenting concerns and even the loss of loved ones. A dashed-off email about enjoying time with family and friends is going to ring both hollow and crass.
If your company has lost employees that have succumbed to COVID, that fact cannot and should not be glossed over. Reiterate your sympathies to colleagues. Take the next step and launch a memorial, such as a donation to a charity that you announce in your message.
If you have furloughed workers or let them go altogether, acknowledge the losses, recognize the uncertainty that it signifies and express measured hope that it will not have to happen in the future.
Your corporate holiday message of 2020 should be unique: A cut-and-paste of last year’s content won’t suffice, nor will hackneyed sentiments referring to “these unprecedented times” and “this year like no other.” Don’t borrow words to express yourself; find your own.
Be hopeful and optimistic, especially with work toward a vaccine advancing, but not lax or cavalier. Use your holiday message as a reminder to stay safe, wear a mask (!), stay in familial pods, socially distance and maintain good health (especially mental). Then model those behaviors yourself. What you’re seen doing is as effective a communications tool as what you say, post or write.
Be serious but sincere, hopeful but reasonable, optimistic but grounded. Show yourself in a candid and plain-language way to be concerned, sympathetic and determined to help your people and your company move forward in 2021.
Dan Weckerly is an experienced public relations professional currently counseling a number of companies local to the Lehigh Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.