Dear Price Lang friends:
I’m sure we can all agree, the times we are living in are uncertain. I can honestly say that we don’t have a single client that isn’t impacted in some way by the spread of COVID-19.
We are in continual contact with our clients, helping each one manage this strange new reality as they work to protect their businesses, their employees and their customers.
Along those lines, we’re sharing a brief overview of our crisis communications checklist. When times are unsteady, there are things we can all do to move the needle and provide comfort to the public we serve.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
1. Your first, most important audience is internal. Your employees are looking to you to provide structure, a plan and a sense of normalcy.
a. The best thing you can do for your business is establish a point person who can provide a consistent, transparent framework for your activities to continue.
b. Changes to plans or policies should be provided in real time, and expectations for team members should be clear.
c. Fostering a sense of teamwork and mission breeds productivity, and productivity protects your business.
2. External communications can make all the difference for your business.Once you’ve taken care of your employees, you should next consider the messages you’re sending customers. This message will vary based on the type of business you’re operating, but the principles will remain the same. External crisis communications requires consideration of three things: values, impact and need.
a. Communicating your company values should be done on an ongoing basis; those values provide the best opportunity to create connection. In a crisis, that’s even more important. If you’re running a Fortune 500 company, your customers want to know how you’re taking care of your people, internally and externally. If you’re running a family business, say so, and then treat your customers like family. Demonstrating and communicating values in a crisis is all about authenticity, no matter your size.
b. Impact is measurable – and should be shared transparently. There is a way to quantify the impact this crisis will have on your organization and your customers. How you choose to communicate that impact can make or break your business. Don’t oversell it. Don’t undersell it either. Most importantly though - don’t pretend it isn’t happening. There’s a fine line to walk between sending a message of strength and one of delusion, and every step counts.
c. And finally, there’s need. In any crisis there’s need, and there’s opportunity to be on the giving or the receiving end of that need. If your company is in a position to help, then help. Encourage your employees to join your cause, and share what you’re doing internally and externally so that others might follow your lead.
* An extra note here - If you’re in the nonprofit world, you may find your organization more in need than ever before. State that need clearly. Talk about the impact of the virus on your organization and the people you serve, and be specific when you ask for help. Say it clearly, and celebrate those who step up on your behalf.
Organizations that communicate effectively during this crisis will survive, while those that simply conduct business as usual may not. Assign a point person to drive this process for your team, and you’ll come out better for it.
As always, don’t hesitate to reach out if we can help.