4 Steps to Communicating in Times of Crisis

Given the current situation we are all facing due to COVID-19, the feeling of uncertainty is more prevalent than ever. With events being cancelled daily, travel restrictions being put in place, and laws restricting congregation, we are all unsure about what will happen next. However, there are a couple of things that we do know for certain. First, the health and safety of our families, colleagues, clients, friends and communities is the top priority for us all. Second, we all must do what we can to help each other and do our best to help the companies we lead or work for grow and thrive.

One small way we can be helping at Marketing Works is to provide marketing counsel regarding communications best practices. We will be authoring a blog each week related to a topic or trend to help all of us prosper as best possible during these trying times.

Our first topic is how to maintain the best communication with colleagues and customers when face-to-face contact is not available. In fact, it is more important than ever to be sharing updates and information with your internal and external audiences. Here are four steps we recommend to get you started:

Step 1: Generate your internal policy or position. Everything begins with your team. They must understand what your position is and how you are going to approach the situation. Think about the most important questions they have (e.g., will they be able to work remotely, what additional precautions are you taking at the office, etc.) and begin generating answers. We also recommend working with your HR team or a professional HR consulting firm such as CMax Advisors to create your formal policy. Once you have crafted your position, make sure you share it with your entire team as soon as possible.

Step 2: Generate your plan to communicate your position externally. Author your message to important external audiences regarding your plans. In the past couple weeks, I have seen many great notifications from restaurants and businesses regarding their response to COVID-19. The best are from the heart and illustrate the culture of their organizations. For example, The Refectory Restaurant and Wine Shop authored a letter from owner, Kamal Boulos describing their position, which they shared on their website and social channel. Rea & Associates, a regional CPA and business consulting firm, authored a note from their CEO regarding their policies as well as provided access to potential helpful resources. Rea distributed the note via email, social channels as well as on their website. Both of these organizations stayed true to their values in their communications, which will serve them well after this crisis ends.

Step 3: Be creative in how you collaborate internally and externally. Not being able to meet in person does present challenges. However, there are many other ways to collaborate and communicate while we practice social distancing. At Marketing Works, we have asked our team to work remotely, so using a portal like Slack as a way to collaborate has been very beneficial. We also now rely on web conferencing to host staff and client meetings, so having an account through Join.me, Skype, Zoom or GotoMeeting is crucial. Other examples include my son taking his music lessons online and my wife exploring using FaceTime or another interactive video platform to teach dance. The key is to ask those you need to be communicating with what their preferences are and then find the best solution.

Step 4: Continue to communicate throughout the crisis. As soon as you think you have shared the same message too many times, send it again. Your internal teams need to hear from you on updates that impact their work and lives, and your external audiences want to know how they can reach you and what they can expect from you going forward. Consider creating a schedule for COVID-19 updates and sharing those in the best communications channel (e.g., email, social, website, letters, etc.) for your audiences. 

We are experiencing a situation that has never happened before, but we’re optimistic that this will provide an opportunity for our companies to learn, improve and grow. For the benefit of us all, here are some great resources for businesses to leverage:

At Marketing Works, we will remain committed to providing the best service for all of our clients as well as following all of the recommended practices to contain the spreading of COVID-19. Please continue to support local businesses as best you can and let us know if there is any way we can help you or your organization.

Best regards and be well! 

Bill Kiefaber

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