Wall Street Journal profile: How Covid-19 Is Changing the Language in Emails

The balancing act of being sensitive to the current situation while not being tone deaf is one we are all trying to steady. Now more than ever, being able to ‘read the room’ is crucial when communicating to colleagues, the media and clients. While some recipients do not want emails tailored around COVID, others require you to be mindful of the circumstance and want you to be forthright with them.

“People want the truth and they want it as concisely as possible. The tolerance for any sort of fluff is at a minimum,” shared our CEO, Brian Metcalf, in an article in the Wall Street Journal on communicating during a pandemic. Metcalf has instructed employees to keep messages short and sweet and to get to the point without the unnecessary details.

Our agency has shifted away from using business jargon to a more compassionate and sympathetic tone when communicating to the public. The usual sign-off has been replaced with a note acknowledging safety and health and asking questions when necessary on how we can help.

Internally, conference room chitchat and office patter are now Slack messages and video calls. To keep morale high and lighten the mood, our agency enjoys sharing photos of working from home setups with four-legged pals and sharing weekend quarantine stories. In a time without a lot of interpersonal communication, that screen-to-screen connection humanizes things and brings back a taste of normalcy.