Is the Way Out Around the Corner?
COVID-19 began as a global crisis with country leaders dictating the terms of engagement, but it is now becoming a local leadership priority. Putting all politics aside, here in the United States, governors and mayors have taken center stage establishing protocols and policies for their states, counties, and cities. Governor Cuomo in New York, Governor Newsom in California, Governor Whitmer in Michigan and Governor DeWine in Ohio have all become media staples via daily briefings where they are seen confidently orchestrating the operations of their respective states during this tumultuous time.
They are dictating the situation and gaining trust among their constituents in the process. This is a natural evolution for several reasons:
- Think Global: Act Local: This oft-used phrase (and a W2O value) has never been more meaningful than today. Local economies must survive for the global economy to return. Businesses and institutions – small, medium and large – are critical to the country’s macro-financial stability.
- Customized solutions must be based on facts and data in a particular area: Decisions should be made by taking into account local variables, including density of population, medical capabilities and capacities, and physical environment. While COVID-19 is a global pandemic, local response needs to be calibrated based on conditions close to home. Interstate collaboration is already underway in the western and eastern parts of the country, where states with similar conditions are collaborating to ensure the greatest impact.
- In disaster scenarios like this, local leaders tend to be trusted more: COVID-19 has literally shut down the world amid fears of the spread of a virus we are still learning about. In such a case, once global leaders have issued specific edicts, local leaders take the reins and provide a beacon of hope and a way out based on their situation and what is right for their residents.
The Same “Why?”
Federal, state and local governments all have the same rationale in leading the response during this crisis. There is nothing more important than your health: physical, mental and financial.
Ensuring the population is both healthy and prosperous is at the forefront of purposeful leadership at all levels of government. However, the ability to ignite the economic engine and healthcare systems in a prudent and efficient manner rests with state and local institutions. It is through this prism that local leadership is viewed as leading more than a process, but a crusade. Communications is neither scripted nor memorized. Messages have to be real, genuine and rooted in good data, while at the same time coming straight from the heart. Facts are mixed with emotion and vice versa. Policy and communications become intertwined. People are brought into the story. And while every decision is not always applauded, each one is respected.
As the search for COVID-19 vaccines and treatments continues with biopharmaceutical organizations working tirelessly along with the entire healthcare system and first responders on round-the-clock shifts, the megaphone has begun to shift in terms of who is quelling the fears and addressing the needs of an entire world, nation, country, region, states, and city. This is now firmly in the hands of local leaders.
While the corporate platitudes of “we are all in this together” often ring hollow, we are all responsible for inspiring hope, improving infrastructure, maintaining activity, and protecting health. We the people have answered this call and begun to flatten the curve, and now we have to apply that same fortitude to get us all back to a more normal life and productivity. This requires key safety precautions we have come to adopt – wearing a mask in public, washing our hands frequently and not touching our faces, along with regular diagnostic testing and contact surveillance.
As marketers and communicators, it is important to note the shifts and changes taking place around us almost daily. We have to continue to #StayFluid and #ThinkGlobally and #ActLocal on behalf of our clients and ourselves.
The key is to stay optimistic while remaining realistic and always following the facts and data as that is what will truly allow us to get our accustomed freedom of movement back.
Be safe. Stay healthy.
W2O’s additional COVID-19 coverage