War in Ukraine: Considerations for Speaking Out and Making a Difference

How can we help?

That is the question individuals and organizations are asking throughout the world as a devastating humanitarian crisis unfolds in Ukraine. There aren’t any right or wrong answers, but there are myriad ways that people can make a difference.

For example, Apple and Disney are just two of the powerful brands taking steps to stop doing business with, and in, Russia. Through actions and words, many companies are also clarifying their firm beliefs that this horrific situation must end.

Part and parcel of all of these decisions are the components that go into making them, and the way they are crafted, structured and delivered to constituents and the world.

As professional communicators, it is our job to help ensure that these decisions and actions have the greatest impact that they can, not only in how they are stated but that they actually mean what they say.

And just as there are many ways to provide support, there are also many critical elements to take into account and implement prior to making any announcements.

As you think about what steps your company can take, here are some elements to consider:

  • Start by asking how best you can contribute or add to the conversation. What expertise and resources does your organization have that can best help make a difference?
  • By speaking out, what do you hope to achieve? Will it have a meaningful impact?
  • Who should be involved in the decision-making process?
  • What are your employees saying? Listen to what is being talked about internally, and let this help shape your priorities and influence your messaging.
  • Make sure that your internal and external constituents are aware before making a statement or taking action — not only to keep them informed, but also to take advantage of their expertise.
  • Think about pointing not just to the expertise and resources your particular organization can offer, but also to other resources that might be helpful and push this information out through your various social channels.
  • Humanitarian aid does not have to mean financial support. For example, signing onto statements and expressions of solidarity can help lend the weight of your company’s brand to important unifying alliances.

There are always risks in speaking out, but once a decision is made to do so, there are moral and ethical imperatives — in the face of the destruction and heartbreak taking place in Ukraine — that outweigh potential consequences for the bottom line or what might be unwelcome criticism. Ultimately, it is not about us, but about how our support can help those in this time of dire need.


[Illustration credit: adobe stock]

 

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