Updated: Sep 16, 2020
Regardless of size or sector, literally every type of business has been impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The key to navigating through these fast-moving and uncertain times is communication – to both staff and clients. But how do you ensure that you are staying visible and relevant without coming across as being insensitive or opportunistic?
What you should be doing?
Choose the right message: Choose a message that aligns with the overall tone and values of your brand. Now is not the time to be funny or different as it may look like you are oblivious to the gravity of the situation. Instead, keep your communication informative, practical, interesting and concise and only share advice from credible sources like the World Health Organisation or the NHS.
Be honest and transparent: Acknowledge your responsibilities to staff and clients, be honest about the actions you are taking and clear about any changes you will be making. This is also a good time to build closer relationships with key stakeholders like suppliers, employees, consumers, the media and even your bank. Spending time creating new relationships or fostering existing ones may pay dividends later.
Prioritise what is important: While it's important to pivot and change the business to cope with the 'new normal', it is equally important to focus on what matters to customers and staff. Be open to questions about health and safety and job security from your employees and concerns about service delivery from your clients. Make sure you are aware of any external policy announcements and can respond to them timeously.
What you should not be doing?
Jumping on the bandwagon:
It is perfectly fine to remain silent, especially if you are unsure of what to say.
Analysis by trade magazine The Grocer showed that in the first week of the national lockdown, only 24 of the UK’s 100 biggest grocery brands acknowledged the pandemic on their consumer-facing websites, and only a third referred to the crisis on Instagram or Twitter.
Only communicate if you have a compelling message to share. Being vocal when you have nothing supportive to add, or if your business is profiting from the crisis can be dangerous.
Commit to providing regular updates, especially if you have promised these, and try to share them on more than one platform.
It is also wise to identify either an individual or a core group of credible spokespeople that are experienced and confident in communicating on behalf of the brand.
Only focus on the here and now:
Although things at the moment are very unpredictable, one certainty is that this crisis will eventually pass. It is important to have a plan in place to make sure you are able to flourish in the recovery phase.
Get your ducks in row now so that you are fully equipped to deal with a host of different scenarios that may play out at some point in the future.