An American Editor

December 25, 2020

On the Basics — Communicating in a crisis

Filed under: Editorial Matters — An American Editor @ 8:09 am
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Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Owner
An American Editor

These are scary times in many ways. Coping with the pandemic is a challenge for ourselves and our clients and colleagues, and it looks as if — despite the vaccines — it will continue into the new year. I’ve been posting language along these lines to client websites, colleagues and clients themselves as our world contracts due to the current health crisis, and I thought colleagues here might find it useful.

“Because of coronavirus precautions, many upcoming area events have been or will be postponed or canceled, and venues are closed or might close in the near future. To confirm whether events you’re interested in will still be held as scheduled, be sure to check the websites of host organizations before planning to view an exhibition or attend an event.” 

You are welcome to adapt this as needed.

For instance, one of my clients publishes a monthly regional magazine that always includes two pages of upcoming events listings, and had to tear up that whole section for a recent issue in light of virus-related postponements and cancellations. I suggested saving time and energy by creating a couple of house ads for that space and using a version of this language.

Another of my regular projects is a newsletter where the majority of content is as much as 10 to 15 pages of listings of upcoming museum exhibitions. A version of this language is now at the Events and Exhibitions section of the client’s website, was in those sections of the spring newsletter issue, and is in the fall issue.

I also posted this to my own site:

“We are facing challenging times at the moment, and no one knows how long they will last. I want to thank my wonderful clients who are keeping me busy and to my equally wonderful colleagues (as well as family and friends) who are looking out for each other. For many years, I have been in the lucky position of working from home, almost exclusively using electronic processes for writing, editing, proofreading and even presenting for, as well as communicating with, my clients. I’ve always been conscious of my good fortune and never taken it for granted, and the current global health situation makes me even more appreciative than usual. My fingers are crossed that we all make it through safely and with our physical, professional and professional health intact. I wish the best to everyone I know and interact with.”

My point is that we have the opportunity to reassure those we work and live with that we are aware of how difficult the current times can be, and are available to help them navigate the difficulties they might face. Even if working from home isn’t new to you, and even if your editorial business hasn’t suffered greatly in recent months, people around you are likely to be confused or distraught on some level. Those who weren’t used to working from home have had entire new lifestyles to adjust to. Those whose jobs can’t be done remotely have huge problems to solve. Those who have contracted the coronavirus, or whose family members have fallen ill, are in trouble.

We might not be able to solve their problems, but we can offer tips for some aspects of what others are going through, and compassion and understanding for everyone else.

Oh, and one important suggestion: If you’ll be out of pocket for some of the holiday season and plan to enable an autoresponder for e-mail, make sure it isn’t going to go into action for discussion lists you belong to. Set your list or group subscriptions to No Mail so you don’t drive colleagues crazy by having your out-of-office response pop up every time anyone posts to the list.

How are you communicating with clients, colleagues and employers in these challenging times?

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