We’re all feeling it, the escalation of the COVID-19 pandemic this week has everyone questioning our immediate response and the long-term affects that lie ahead.
For many, so much uncertainty may feel paralysing. I can understand if as a business, you’re yet to consider how to manage your communications regarding the situation with your staff or your current and prospective customers.
But tempting as it may be, this is not a time to be silent. More than ever you need to be engaging in open and direct communications with your audience.
Fortunately, there are some basic proactive steps you can take as a business to help reassure your audience and provide leadership to build trust and loyalty.
Acknowledge the issue
We’re all human and we’re all experiencing this together. Use empathy to acknowledge the difficulties we are all currently facing.
Check your tone of voice. Obviously, these are serious and challenging times and you need to reflect this. But be mindful not to sound like a robot or politician. Remember to go back to your brand values and communicate in a tone that is reflective of those as well as the situation.
Be honest about how your business is directly affected
- Is your supply chain compromised?
- Have the group gathering restrictions affected your business or event?
- Are you facing potential forced shutdown of your workplace?
Provide a clear and concise plan going forward
- What health and safety measures have you put in place, and how will they provide the safeguard staff and customers need to feel reassured?
- How will you manage staff leave?
- If stock supply is compromised, what do you have available and is there a timeframe for when supply will resume (if there isn’t one yet, acknowledge that too!).
- How can your business be flexible in order to stay operational?
- Can staff work from home?
- What parts of your business can you shift online?
- Can you offer a click and collect or delivery service?
- Are there other viable options to reduce direct contact with customers to allow them to still access your products?
Remind people this situation is fluid and ever-evolving. Be committed to open and regular communications. Keep your audience updated as things change.
Develop an ongoing schedule for communications
Consider how often you need to be updating your staff (I would suggest almost daily) and customers.
Your plan should have a mix of direct communications via email, website updates/blogs and social media posts.
For businesses needing a hand to kick start this process, or for those looking for help to have their current crisis communications reviewed, please reach out. I am happy to assist.
These are wild times indeed, let’s work together to weather the storm.