I’d like to begin today’s post with an understatement and a cliché: COVID-19 is a game-changer.
Despite quick and decisive action that follows the advice of doctors and virologists, Canada has not been spared the community spread of COVID-19. My home province of Ontario has seen the highest rates of infection in the country. Our municipal, provincial, and federal leaders are unified across party lines in their approach to this crisis and are keeping citizens informed with daily press conferences.
Take note. Business leaders – whether you own a small or medium-sized business, or are in the c-suite of a large company – it is paramount that you keep in regular communication with your clientèle.
- Send email communiqués.
- Publish announcements over social media at least once a week.
- Buy ad space in print and digital newspapers and magazines or on television.
Laying low and waiting for this crisis to end is a mistake.
Perhaps you’re not sure what to do or say, especially if yours is a small or non-essential business that has been asked to stay closed. Perhaps you feel that what needs to be said has already been said.
The best course of action during a crisis is to communicate constantly – even if it’s the same message. There is reassurance in repetition. Plus, you’re ensuring that anyone who missed your email or post the first time will see it on one or more subsequent occasions.
Take a page from those companies that are staying on top of the crisis.
Acknowledge the crisis.
Let your customers know that you understand that there is a crisis and that you understand what it means for them. It is not business as usual for anyone. So, don’t pretend that it is. Make sure you tell your customers that you’re working on a solution. Tell them how the crisis will affect daily operations. For instance, my daughter’s karate classes have obviously been cancelled. Yet, the school has not told me how it plans to handle the payments I’ve already made for those classes.
A crisis is a breeding ground for questions. Try to prepare a response to as many as possible.
Empathy goes a long way.
Let your clients know that this crisis is hard on everyone, particularly them. Some of your clients may have lost their jobs. Thankfully, during the turmoil that COVID-19 has wrought, Canadians are able to access bridge payments and other forms of relief. Healthcare is available and free. Banks, landlords and other sources of bills have been asked to provide relief and forgiveness. In many cases, even those measures are not enough to quell the stressful realities that your clients may be experiencing.
Tell your customers that you know how hard, painful, and fearful this situation is. If you can, offer your employees some kind of financial relief and let your customers know about it. Again, if possible allow your clients and employees to contact you to express their fears and frustrations.
We’re all in this together. Let’s be kind to each other.
Reveal the plan.
No one knows what solutions will work best in this situation. But, it is possible to offer some plans for next steps – even if those plans are just for the next week or two. Your employees and clients want to know that you’re staying on top of the crisis and their needs as much as possible.
Remember: Wash your hands. Keep a 2 metre distance between you and others. Stay home.
Need a content writer to help you craft your crisis communications? Contact me.