The importance of communicating sensitively and how to develop good communications with your audience

April 3, 2023By Paula ElliottInsights

Stress can often be a secretive world for the person suffering from it. Still, people struggle to speak up about stressful situations in their daily lives, even to their own GP. Yet it is an acutely common issue. According to Mental Health Organisation, 49% of 18–24-year-olds are more likely to suffer from stress-related conditions than any other age, making up a significant percentage of the current UK workforce.

But stress can affect anyone’s mental health regardless of age, ability, and education, particularly those of older generations in high-pressure jobs, like IT admins and CISOs. Statistics from recent surveys by JumpCloud, and Egress show that stress is a significant factor in the IT industry. Over half of the IT administrators surveyed by JumpCloud said security is their organisation’s primary IT challenge.

However, IT administrators are already absorbing cybersecurity spending cuts, and around 56% of cybersecurity professionals feel like their stress levels are increasing yearly. With this, Egress found that 99% of IT leaders found email security a source of stress. Therefore, in these challenging times, businesses and corporations must communicate sensitively with their audiences experiencing pressurised workloads, limited budgets, and alert fatigue.

According to HR Drive, a mental health benefits vendor, its published survey data revealed that in 2022, as much as 86% of individuals surveyed faced at least one mental health challenge in their lifetime. Perhaps more shocking, only one-third reported receiving support from a therapist, psychologist, or self-care resources, including 40% of those experiencing severe or chronic depression and 28% with conditions such as ADHD, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and even work-related burnout. These aren’t short-term conditions that can be cured with a day or two off work – these are conditions that, without treatment, profoundly affect daily life, workability, as well as relationships with friends and family.

Therefore, in today’s uncertain economy, creating sensitive communication is critical to help, support and guide our target audiences and those of our clients. As PR professionals, our job is to ensure that businesses speak in the right tone and language that speaks to the heart and advises where they are in positions of authority and leadership. Once a company truly understands its audience, it has loyalty, trust, and attention. Businesses must speak sensitively and authentically with transparency and decency and provide the valued support audiences need to feel they are being understood and heard. In response to this need for better communication, here are some of the ways organisations can be better equipped when speaking to audiences:

  1. Acknowledging the audience’s feelings through content creation: Understanding their emotions is crucial in creating content that shows empathy and demonstrates they are being listened to. Aim to be better placed in creating a message that resonates with the audience and shows they aren’t struggling alone.
  2. Provide clear and concise information: When an audience is stressed and burnt out, data needs to be sensitive and straightforward. It is essential to communicate any facts of the situation clearly and concisely and avoid complexities that might confuse or overwhelm them.
  3. Transparency is critical: If you want your audience to trust what you say, you must be transparent in your message. Sugar-coating or downplaying a situation must be avoided. It is critical that your spokespeople have the right amount of experience in high-stress environments and a realistic sense of the pressures felt by a target audience.
  4. Offer clear and direct solutions: An audience will look for answers during stress and anxiety. Aim to provide actionable steps that can be taken to address the situation, giving them a sense of control over a stressful situation.
  5. Be composed, calm, and reassuring: Even when the situation is complex or uncertain, offering stability and reassurance to the audience is crucial to building confidence in your messaging.

It is vital that, as PR professionals, we continue to work with businesses and organisations to create strong messaging that resonates with target audiences and provides actionable steps to address concerns in times of stress and uncertainty.

By acknowledging the feelings of our target audiences, businesses can be better prepared to give precise information, build trust, offer solutions to their users, and provide reassurance. We can all help support our companies and their audiences and ease stress and better mental health for everyone.

With stress awareness month, there is no better time to act and develop an awareness that shows compassion and support in our communication.