Cuomo Does a CoCo

by Sir John Hargrave on 04/06/2020

If you want to see what good Coronavirus Communication looks like, just watch Andrew Cuomo.

This is not a political statement (we’re beyond politics now), it’s about effective communication in a time of crisis. New York governor Andrew Cuomo has been consistently following Coronavirus Communication Best Practices, which we gave to you in our free CoCo Cheat Sheet several weeks back.

You won’t sit through the entire video, so we’ve snipped a few soundbites so you can get the flavor. Watch a few seconds of each.

Be honest: In this daily briefing, Cuomo starts with showing the most recent data, in simple charts. It’s not pretty, and he doesn’t sugarcoat it. He says what they know, what they don’t know, and what they’re doing. Clear and calm.

No BS: He tells us that the New York hospital system is overcapacity. He then speaks at a human level: “I understand the stress and pressure you’re under.” This message is repeated visually, on slides.

Be flexible: Cuomo is literally coordinating all the hospitals in New York to work together, which has never been done before. He calls it “surge and flex,” quickly moving resources to where they’re most needed. (If you watch one part, watch this.)

LISTEN: Somehow Cuomo moves from all this dark news to a lighthearted note, talking about “Cabin Fever.” It’s an important message, because it’s what we’re all feeling: a good example of keeping a “finger on the pulse” of what’s really going on.

Speak to the fear: The fear is that we never get out of this. Cuomo puts this in historical context, providing hope that eventually THIS WILL BE OVER. Note how he clearly separates “personal opinion” from other credible sources, which provides transparency (and thus credibility).

Be clear: “The concept here … is that nobody can handle this alone. Our wisdom … our ethos is that we’ll help one another. You don’t want your house to burn down, don’t let your neighbor’s house burn down. It’s the smart, practical thing.” He uses clear and simple language to drive home the point: we’re all in this together.


These messages are reinforced with slogans on the video screens like “New York State Tough” and “Stop the Spread.” These communicate both personal resilience, and personal responsibility.

This stuff is not theory. It’s a real-life battle plan for leaders of any kind — businesses, organizations, churches — and it’s playing out in real time.

Your communication style will be different, but your communication tactics should be the same. Follow the cheat sheet.


5 Business Best Practices During the Coronacrisis:

> Hold up examples of “role models” during this time, no matter where you see them.

> Consider how you can use Cuomo’s “Surge and Flex” plan in your own organization (quickly sharing resources where they’re most needed).

> Take this time to improve your communication skills: take an online writing or speaking course.

> Communicate frequently: a quick daily Zoom call with team members, direct reports, or co-workers.

> Spend 10% of your time helping others.