If you’re like Charleston|Orwig and most of our clients, you’ve made some tough decisions over the past 10 days. Travel restrictions, event cancellations, office closings—these decisions and others continue to disrupt business-as-usual for all of us, now and potentially for weeks or months to come.
As marketers and communicators, how can we help our companies weather the COVID-19 crisis, adjust to the new normal and come out the other side stronger than before?
- Protect your brand. As with any crisis, customers will remember the brand experiences they have had during this challenging time—both good and bad. As the current crisis evolves, continue to assess your customers’ needs. If your company is positioned to help your customers or community, do so. But make sure it will be viewed as a sincere response and not self-serving.
- Continue to communicate with employees. Health and government authorities update the public every day with new COVID-19 information. Make sure your internal policies and communications reflect the latest developments and guidelines, and update employees frequently.
- Maintain connectedness in a tense environment. Company culture can be fragile under these trying circumstances. Employees who are unaccustomed to working remotely may feel anxious or disconnected. Keep tabs on every individual and provide support as needed. Our company started a twice-weekly informal video chat for all employees to check in with each other. We find that video conferences foster stronger connections than phone calls alone.
- Support sales without sales calling. Many companies have halted or severely restricted face-to-face meetings, including sales calls. Trade shows are history, too. Help your sales team find new ways to communicate with customers. Facilitate webinars, email marketing, Facebook Live and other tools to help connect reps with customers.
- Use fresh eyes. Review your marketing materials, advertising, social posts and website with an eye on the current environment, especially any materials developed before the COVID-19 crisis. Make sure messages are still timely and/or won’t be misinterpreted or make your company seem out of touch. Delete outdated event information from your website.
- Revisit your crisis plan. With the immediate decisions behind you, take another look at your crisis communications plan and make sure relevant spokespersons, talking points and FAQs are at the ready.
- Keep monitoring news feeds. Continue to monitor news and keywords specific to your company, as well as your competitors, customers, suppliers, associations, NGOs and industry. Be flexible and ready to act as news warrants.
- Start a back-to-normal plan. No one knows how long this current situation will last, but we’re certain it won’t last forever. Start thinking about the steps you’ll need to take to return operations to normal. If you decided to close a facility, how and when will you re-open? Who will be notified, when and how? And what are your procedures to ensure a safe workplace upon re-opening?
- Stay well. Continue to follow government guidelines and common-sense precautions to keep this disease at bay—for yourself, your family and your co-workers.
We’d love to hear your thoughts and tips on how you and your company are dealing with this ongoing challenge. And contact Mark Gale firstname.lastname@example.org if we can help in any way.