Communication Is Key: The Importance of Black Communications Professionals During a Crisis

Apr 15, 2020 | BM4F Spotlights, Uncategorized, Young, Gifted & Green Blog Series | 0 comments

Author: Jennifer Sharp

As the saying goes, “when you stay ready, you don’t have to get ready,” especially in times of uncertainty. As a communications professional, it is important for me to always be prepared in the event of a crisis and to help my clients effectively communicate to their audiences.

In a time like the COVID-19 pandemic, a pandemic where African Americans are disproportionately affected according to the CDC, it is significantly important to have a black communications professional [or someone who knows how to communicate to a black audience] in your arsenal for various reasons.

We know our audience [and yours too].

In order to communicate your message effectively, you must know your audience, or else you will end up in a situation where you will come across as uninformed and offensive to your audience.

Communications professionals utilize both quantitative and qualitative research to determine who to communicate to and how to communicate to them. When communicating to target audiences, communicators determine which platforms (social media, blogs, news outlets, etc.) we should use to communicate to the audiences. Also, we determine the educational attainment of our audience and when you are speaking to an African-American audience [or an audience of any demographic], we are aware that not everyone is college educated or can read higher than a 3rd grade level. Therefore, we work to make sure that the message is created in a way that EVERYONE, regardless of education level and socio-economic background, can understand your message.  

More importantly, black communications professionals understand the black culture and can tailor our communications strategies from that perspective and to simply ‘do it for the culture.’

We are a valuable resource…treat us as such.

As a young, black communications professional, I have been in situations where I am not treated as the communications expert that I am hired or contracted to be for the organization. With all due respect, if you hire a communications professional, trust that he or she can do the job that you hire them to do. Establishing a trusting and transparent working relationship with a communications professional will help us as communications professionals meet your needs. Help us help you!

We help you build and cultivate relationships with your stakeholders.

During a crisis, it is extremely important to build and maintain trust with your audience. You never want to leave your audience confused and in panic-mode because they have not heard from your company or organization. During the COVID-pandemic, a lot of companies and organizations have re-worked their strategies to be a better asset to their audience. For example, one of my clients, Ballet On Wheels Dance School & Company, is now offering online dance classes for their students, offering financial aid to those who have been affected by the pandemic, and asking for donations to continue to help young dancers continue to learn during this crisis. Now is the time for your company and organization to be a valuable resource during these trying times.

In conclusion, it is gravely important to have an experienced communications professional that will help you tailor your messaging, communicate to your audience, and build and maintain positive and communicative relationships with your stakeholders.

Jennifer Sharp is a freelance writer, Owner and Chief Communications Strategist for Sharp Lifestyle Communications, and graduate of Christian Brothers University. She is also the Communications Co-Chair for the Memphis chapter of Public Relations Society of America and Public Relations Chair for Memphis Urban League Young Professionals. Follow Jennifer Sharp on Twitter @Jennifer_LSharp.

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