You’ve probably received a ton of emails from your favorite brands or seen numerous posts on social media about the current turmoil. First, it was about their initial response to COVID-19. More recently, they’ve shared ongoing communications about company policies for masks and social distancing and re-opening changes. And many companies have spoken out about how they’re acknowledging the Black Lives Matter movement.

Socially conscious brands, and even those that aren’t, have felt the pressure to respond to our uncertain and ever-shifting world. The way in which you respond and follow through impacts your brand image and customer loyalty. Unfortunately, in our current cancel culture, navigating these tumultuous waters isn’t easy.

To Speak or Remain Silent

In the senior living industry, relationships with clients and their families are personal. It requires a delicate touch to maintain trust and balance customer relations with transparency and honesty. A blanket response isn’t the most effective approach.

If you choose to address social issues, you need to understand your audience and respond in a way that is consistent with your brand mission, your voice, and your values. The next decision to make is how and where to communicate your position. Popular platforms are also under fire for their response to current social issues. Facebook, for instance, has seen a growing number of top brands pull their advertising from the social media giant in a month-long boycott.

If the decision is made to speak up, then you need to be prepared to follow through if you promise to take action or to implement new policies. For example, if you address the pandemic by requiring all employees and visitors to wear masks, then you must have a means of holding everyone accountable.

If you choose to communicate a compassionate response in support of Black Lives Matter, your organization must follow through on its commitment. If you fail, you risk more damage than if you had remained silent. Your audience will remember. We’ve all see the viral videos of individuals behaving in a disrespectful manner followed by their humble apology with promises to do better. As an audience, we’ve become numb to these empty promises.

Speak with Humility

The senior living industry has faced criticism for a lack of diversity. According to a 2018 Kaiser Family Foundation report, 1 in 4 frontline workers in senior living communities is Black while the executive ranks are predominantly white.

Let’s be honest. Racism is a delicate topic, and most companies have done little to address systemic racism within their company culture. So it is disingenuous to announce your organization doesn’t tolerate racism. Instead, acknowledge the pain of the Black community and recognize the past shortcomings of your organization. Your goal should be to strike an emotional chord based on honest humility and compassion.

Then, provide an action plan for how your senior living community currently responds to racism and specific steps you plan to take to make continued improvements. Adding ways in which you will hold your company and employees accountable in the future can go a long way to helping a skeptical audience believe you.

For those who plan to make public statements, the messages you communicate will need to be tailored to your internal and external audiences and the specific platforms you use to publish your response. But to communicate effectively, you need to understand your target market and their preferences. This requires quality data analytics and a strong and intentional marketing strategy.

The Right Message to the Right Audience

Deciding how to respond and communicate effectively requires up-to-date knowledge of your audience and marketing channels. Sabal Group can help. We provide the data you need to reach the right audience with the best messaging to fit that audience’s needs and preferences.

We can help you target your communication to a specific audience while explaining clearly the purpose of the message and why it matters to them. Don’t ignore the current social challenges. They affect everyone. Take this opportunity to build trust through clear, purposeful, and targeted messaging. Contact Sabal Group to discuss how to create an effective communication strategy in these uncertain times.