The nature and magnitude of the coronavirus is unlike anything any of us have seen in our lifetimes. The ripple effects have touched every part of society, from global politics to the economy to the way we interact.
Virtually every company or organization has been impacted as well, either directly or indirectly. And communicators are struggling to get messaging out in a constantly changing environment they can’t control.
What does this mean?
With no roadmap or historical context, many PR pros have been paralyzed by the fear of doing or saying the wrong thing. This can be especially true when a company is directly impacted – whether it’s informing employees about layoffs or furloughs, or disclosing a confirmed case of COVID-19 that may disrupt operations and inconvenience customers.
What should marketers be doing?
We’ve been helping clients find success by sticking with the fundamental principles of sound crisis management. Even though the circumstances we’re facing are truly unprecedented, following these common-sense approaches can help any organization maintain trust among its most important stakeholders.
Tell it All, and Tell it Fast – Few things can be more damaging in a time of crisis than having bits and pieces of bad news dribble out day after day. Share everything you know as soon as you are able so your key audiences can digest the news and begin moving forward.
Don’t Speculate – This may be especially challenging during the virus episode because everyone wants to know what will happen next. But inexact guesses can end up looking like broken promises. If you can’t say it with 100% certainty, don’t say it at all.
Family First – Make sure your most important audiences – your employees and key customers – get their information directly from you instead of the media or the rumor mill. Not only will you earn their trust, but they can also play a vital role in shaping other people’s opinions.
Get Caught Doing Something Good – All of us are victims of this pandemic to one degree or another, including companies and brands. Now more than ever, marketers can earn goodwill by sharing positive news of how they’re helping people cope – like the way toilet-paper makers are responding to shortages or HP offering free downloads of its designs for 3D-printed medical equipment.
Does your crisis communication approach need a review or a revamp? We’re here to help.