Communicating in Times of Uncertainty

Well, it's been a long year, huh? Who would have thought that 2020 would bring us a ... pandemic. Here I was only worried about the U.S. Democratic Primary (I'm still mourning Elizabeth Warren, by the way) and subsequent election.

Then COVID-19 hit.

Companies lost their collective minds on how to best communicate with their customers. Tweets started flying out with complaints about all the emails -- everyone apparently felt the need to get in front of their users as quickly and early as possible. Were these emails really needed? Here's a sampling of my own inbox:

My inbox - I blurred out some senders to protect them and personal info.

I would say that the majority of these emails were not needed. Some of these emails were from banks and utility companies where I really didn't need a communication -- I do all my banking online and I automatically pay my utility bills. A quick scan of those emails showed that nothing was going to change (for now). I even got a few emails from my old job, where I noticed my personal and former professional emails were still on the list, even though I have definitely unsubscribed in the past!

The emails I needed most were from a few local businesses that I frequent. Knowing whether they were closing was definitely pertinent information. Did I really need an email about Chipotle's increased sanitation? Shouldn't that be at the highest levels anyway? Didn't they have an entire outbreak of flu one year in their restaurants? (I digress and I still love Chipotle).

So overall, clutter.

Which leads me to hypocrisy.

I wanted to send an email out to our audience at Mango & Marigold Press the "right way". We had an email on our schedule about the upcoming new release Finding Om. It's online for early review for a May launch. COVID-19 has caused us to cancel all events, and we don't know what the future will bring for our tiny operation.

In my heart, I knew we could not send an email telling people how excited we were for our book, and by the way, can you please review it? While you may feel like the world is ending? We would really appreciate it.

Over the weekend, Nidhi Chanani, author/illustrator of our board book Shubh Raatri Dost/Good Night Friend upload a reading of her book onto Youtube for parents to watch with their kids. On March 16, Raakhee Mirchandani, author of Super Satya Saves the Day, went live on Facebook to do a reading of her book.

From there, I knew our messaging. We're a small publishing house. Kids books are our jam!. This is not the time to be asking for things. We need to be available, to give what we have, to be a friend. It's a chance to continue leading with empathy, as we always have done, and always will do.

Parents are scared right now. Hell, I'm scared right now! So I got a blog post together on the Mango & Marigold Press website of the two readings and all our available printables for parents.

Here's the message we ended up with:

I feel intensely proud of this email. In a time where it feels like so much is out of our control, we have the resources to give families something to distract them, whether it's watching stories about kids saying goodnight, or conquering giant slides in Hoboken, or printing/coloring in new bookmarks.