What to do? #CrisisCommunications
Firstly, let us start with some good news. According to Fortune Magazine, China has already started ‘revenge spending’ with some markets beginning to rebound.
They are some weeks ahead of us in dealing with COVID-19, but it is a clear demonstration that there is light at the end of this tunnel. It may be a few weeks away, but we will come out the other end and the quicker people abide by Government guidelines, the quicker that will happen.
Our economies will start working again and people will want your services/products again. This is not to underestimate the severity of the hit to our economy or anyone’s business, this is just the way we must think.
A wise man once said, if the problem seems insurmountable from where you are, just shift your perspective to one where it doesn’t seem so impossible.
If we begin to look at where we will be in six months’ time, we must accept that the business environment will be different, but your customers will return. Past experience shows that a company which is ready to get itself back out to its customers is always going to be the company that gets back onto its feet first.
What message to send
This is essentially a crisis. It is natural for people to panic and retreat into themselves in a crisis – just look at all the toilet rolls people are stockpiling! While this reflex is natural, it isn’t healthy either for an individual or a business. We are social creatures and our businesses must be ready to engage if we are to keep our customers.
That engagement must be positive. As I said in my last blog, you need to be positive, show that you are monitoring the situation, protecting your employees and clients and, if possible, operating as usual. We are lucky, our work involves a lot of self-isolation and so there is very little change for us because we already have the systems in place to provide a high-quality service to our clients, wherever they are in the world.
What businesses must have during a crisis is a plan. It must be robust, but also flexible. Just look at how quickly this situation has developed. Many businesses are finding it difficult to keep up. Without a plan, however, there will be mixed messages and these will be damaging in the long run. Like I said in my last blog, the message you present now may live long in the memories of potential clients of the future.
Once you have a plan for how to deal with the crisis, that message must be shared with all employees. It is vital for all members of staff to be on the same page, giving out the same message. Customers like clarity and they like consistency.
That message must also be on the website. It is the first port of call for many customers. It must be clear and demonstrate all the key points you wish to present to your clients. Ours simply states:
“Blueberry PR is operating as normal during the COVID-19 crisis, while complying with all Government guidelines.
We are also offering any business that is unsure how to progress during this difficult time a free 30-minute crisis communications consultation. This will be conducted remotely.
For more information, email us on firstname.lastname@example.org
That final point is important. We are a community. Just as humans are social creatures, business works successfully when it is part of a larger community. We are offering free consultations because many companies will have never had to deal with a problem like this and just at the time when they should be planning to express their message clearly and effectively, they may be feeling like hiding.
As I said in the last blog, if we work together and we work intelligently, we can all come through this!