Creating an effective comms strategy in a crisis.
In wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, businesses across the globe are facing a crisis – from travel bans, to country-wide lockdowns and event cancellations. In these unprecedented times, it is vital that businesses communicate effectively with their stakeholders, staff and suppliers to maintain trust, both internally and externally, and to portray your brand as ethically responsible.
We’ve put together 7 tips to create an effective communication strategy during the Coronavirus outbreak.
1. Assemble your crisis management team
Although it can never be predicted when a crisis may arise, it is still important to have a team in place to swiftly manage communications during the Coronavirus pandemic. It is key to have a crisis management team that is responsible for all communications that come from the business. This team should consist of executive members of staff as well as in-house PR specialists. Or, if your in-house team lacks PR expertise, you can outsource to an integrated marketing agency.
2. Protect your staff
It is mandatory to protect your employees in times of crisis to ensure that they feel supported and kept in the loop. Motivation levels need to be kept high in the team to make sure that client work is still delivered to a high standard. There are lots of ways that you can support your staff during the Coronavirus outbreak. These include remote working strategies where possible, reducing daily working hours if your staff are customer facing, and ensuring you hold daily updates to keep your employees up to date with business functionality.
3. Put together a communications plan
As a business, you need to ensure a clear line of communication with your stakeholders, investors and suppliers. It’s important to assess the various outcomes that may occur as the result of Coronavirus, and how they can impact the organisation. Your messaging should reflect your brand values while being sensitive the current climate. Holding regular client meetings will help you to keep them informed while steering them away from any speculation.
4. Choose the right communication channels
You need to ensure you choose the right communication channels to communicate important information. A dedicated webpage, social media posts and email newsletters are effective ways of communicating. It’s also important to have someone manning your social media channels so you can keep on top of comments and messages. Ask your customers what they need and want and be open to making changes to adapt to your new working environment.
5. Develop a marketing contingency plan
In times of crisis, the market can be volatile, consumer behaviour will be unexpected, and the economy will be constantly fluctuating. With this in mind, it’s important to ensure you have a short and long-term marketing plan in place. You may need to reassess budget allocation and spend in the short-term, while maintaining supplier and investor relationships in the long-term.
6. Continue to deliver
For many businesses, plans have had to be changed in light of the spread of Coronavirus. However, it is key to offer your customers with an alternative. Supposed to be holding a conference? Hold a virtual one! Does your shop usually only offer in-store services? Set up a simple Shopify site to allow your customers to shop online! There are lots of ways that you can continue to deliver on your business objectives despite the extenuating circumstances.
7. No false information
The natural fear that strikes during a crisis will lend itself to the circulation of misinformation, with certain news platforms not always supplying reliable sources of information. Businesses must ensure that they evaluate all news sources and only communicate reliable and accurate news to stakeholders.
There is still more information to be revealed regarding the spread of Coronavirus, and its impact on businesses around the world. We must make sure that we are responsive and reactive to updates, keeping our stakeholders, customers and suppliers informed along the way.