Nazia Andaleeb Preema, country’s prolific visual artist; President, Women in Leadership (WIL) and. Director and creative editor, Bangladesh Brand Forum shares her insights on the primary function of emergency communication. In this conversation with Bangladesh Brand Forum, she walked us through the communication mechanisms considering the principals and methods to follow while communicating with masses during a severe crisis like COVID 19. Her main emphasis on cultural, psychological, and philosophical aspects are the deeper insights to easier communication.
Communication is the best antidote for fear. While we want our people to panic less and we also want to keep them informed and be extra cautious what can be an ideal communication approach?
A critical, severe, and crucial situation like this (COVID 19 outbreak) needs to be addressed with its due urgency. It is an emergency. We know our masses. Creating straight forward communication by using clear and not confused guidelines/indications are necessary. 360-degree communication methods should be used in these types of situations. We are talking about a major shift in behavior, safety measures immediately. It is not an easy task to change and adapt so quickly. So we need an easy and efficient communication method. Digital space is where it can be possible rapidly. Since our community or society is multi-layered, mostly uneducated, ignorant, communication method needs to be diverse, simple, and communicative. When I say diverse, it’s not being vivid, rather very strategic to pinpoint the guidelines to understand, reflect, manage, and follow. The guidelines should be as static as possible for not to be confused. Though it is a very new situation for the world, we have to be thorough to gather knowledge, be accurate (as much as possible), and communicate.
Terminologies like “Home Quarantine”, “Social Distancing” “Lockdown”, these are quite alien in our context. Because we come across these terms all the time on TV & social media now, we have started to get used to these. But how do we make them contextualized so that they are understandable to all segments and demographics of the society?
We need to learn to be communicative simply and easily. We must understand using complicated words and complex narration is not going to help. We need to work on our thinking capacity. The deeper we think, the simpler we will be. The more we remain on the surface the more we are getting complicated. Therefore, we lose our capacity to communicate simply. Visual communication would have been a great tool in a time like this. Drawing, illustration, photos, GIFs, animations, storytelling, texts would and should be very effective for visual communication. Hashtag (#) can be used for connecting for massive communication nationwide. Simple visuals or a relatable character that will represent the urgency of the matter through visual expressions or narration would be a way to communicate. Research says we have this inherent capability to communicate visually. So we should think and use that promptly. That will make people understand, believe, adapt, and finally transform. That’s how they will learn to follow health guidelines and safety measures. The world we live in is more driven by visual content than ever. And as we all work together to pull through these difficult times, visual communication helps us to feel connected. That’s why it’s not just a valuable tool for individuals and organizations, but our community as well.
While there is plenty of information out there from around the world, we cannot avoid but see a lot of misinterpretations and misinformation. How do you communicate with the masses to stay away from Coronavirus hoaxes and rumors?
We need to talk to ourselves more than we talk to others so it enhances our ability to know, learn, reflect. This is the time we let ourselves be our judge to understand what to take and what not to. How we speak to ourselves matters. So with our understanding, we will know our language of easy communication.
Develop deep critical thinking skills. Be curious. Learn to knock the door that is important and essential for this time. Don’t knock all the doors unnecessary. To find the right door, one has to be aware, educated, and measured. Knowledge is power, but it is also essential to know how to use this power to be empowered for spiritual, mental, and physical wellbeing. Being connected with family, friends, society and community is the most essential form of communication. More we share knowledge about the very new uncertain situation, more we will feel relief. But also we need to realize when to stop or ignore spreading miss information.
We see changes around us, but in this stage of the crisis, we also see that these changes are not enough. Do you think we have missed the opportunity to communicate the gravity of the crisis with the masses?
Change is constant. Every day we are changing, instinctively. However, when we are asked to be changed, it’s difficult for us, we became conscious not of the fact but of the fear of practicing/facing unknown. Hence we fail to connect the dots. The whole universe is happening by connecting dots. We need to learn to be flexible for any given situation. And that is only possible if we are in the practice of constant learning. Being instinctive is given but practicing to be constant learners will make one strong to be adaptable and transform in any difficult situation. We, as a nation are instinctively aware but we are fundamentally poor as learners. So in this crisis moment of constant learning and practicing, we are hugely suffering.
How big brands that have acceptability and access to peoples’ lives can work together now?
Brands can play a big role to guide and motivate people to learn and communicate better. They can co-create through collaboration. The current crisis is a great moment for brands to put out responsible communication that supports people. They should not face the flair rather need to be extra cautious about putting out their communication in the right context. They have to come up with a new concept, content, and visuals so that it is simple to communicate. Redefine simplicity. Don’t go for less is more. Go for communication which is simple, straight forward, and adaptable. Self-assurance, empathy, awareness, compassion, humility should be the core of content along with its strategic brand positioning and promotion. We have to always remember a brand cannot be a sale driven commodity, it should be the strongest tool to learn and emerges by social, moral, and personal value. Brands have to prepare to emerge out of the crisis stronger than ever before. Brands must not forget this is the time to spread some joy and positivity. It is time for big brands to rise to the occasion.
What should be the communication approach in the post-COVID19 world to get people out of the trauma of this pandemic?
Hopefully, by that time we will learn to live the new normal life. We learn by doing and we became experts through continuous learning. It is a process. Till then we must stay careful, reflective, positive, prepared, and safe. Ensuring the physical and emotional safety of an individual has to be addressed as the first and foremost important step to provide peace. Safety, choice, collaboration, trustworthiness, and empowerment are the key components to keep people calm and compose.
Bangladesh Brand Forum