It’s safe to say the world has shifted to an odd state of flux since the announcement on March 11, 2020 by the World Health Organization (WHO) that the coronavirus (COVID-19) is now a global pandemic. There are daily updates from health officials and government announcing new changes related to school closures, travel bans, social distancing, event cancellations and more.
Communications is an important part of any business operation; however, in nerve wracking times like these, it becomes even more of a priority.
Crisis communications goes beyond one email blast to your mailing list.
The dust has far from settled and it’s crucial you stay vigilant with your messaging and outreach. Here are a few things to keep in mind over the coming days and weeks to come.
- Have one consistent place for the public to find your information. Consider one single news post on your website for timely updates. Ensure each update has a date and/or timestamp with the latest information. Each update doesn’t need to be a massive essay — just share the relevant information. Then for all social posts and e-blasts, you are giving out one single link each and every time. Examples: TELUS SPARK, MCG Career College.
- Provide timely and consistent updates to staff. Everyday brings more uncertainty in terms of expectations related to jobs, layoffs, working at the office, working from home, managing family who are at home…the list goes on and on. Frequent and transparent communication can help your employees feel some small level of comfort that their company is thinking about them, not just the bottom line.
- Stay connected with industry and stakeholders. It’s important to maintain connection to your stakeholders. If you aren’t comfortable with in-person meetings, engage through email, Zoom, FaceTime; use the technology we are privileged to have access to and keep those lines of communication open. Is there something you can work together on? Check out Breaking Bread Van to see how a collection of independent restaurants are working together to show the community how they can still support local business while we are “social distancing.”
- Keep your content and services relevant, given the situation. Do you have free resources available or an online course someone could participate in from the comfort of their own home? At-home workout programs, free online learning…look at your business and consider what opportunities there are to be available for your community, just in a different fashion. Example: Scholastic free daily courses.
- Review your crisis communications plan. This is still an active crisis situation and there will be an important moment for debriefing later; however, keep detailed notes as you go through the process. You should have a record of everything that was shared on social media, through an eblast, etc. so you can review it later. What date was it sent, relative to government updates? What was the message? What was the response? Then later, you can dive into the analysis without having to waste time digging up all of the tactical elements.
Above all, keep calm and focused. What does your tribe need to know? That’s what you need to share.