Not all crises are created equal. Regular crisis communication strategies need to be adapted to fit the unique circumstances of the global pandemic. Our trusted team of PR counselors rounded up their top five tips for navigating COVID-19 crisis communications to help your brand through these trying times.
Be Proactive, Not Reactive
When in crisis, don’t wait for the other shoe to drop. It’s essential to take action to get ahead of what’s to come. This is where hiring a skilled public relations team is crucial. The pros are equipped with the skillset to help to play out all possible crisis scenarios and prepare proactive messaging to help mitigate the impact of the crisis on your customers, employees and business as a whole. By anticipating crisis and preparing accordingly with a proactive approach to internal and external communication, you can build that ever-so-important trust with your stakeholders.
Transparency is Key
You have probably heard it before: “honesty is the best policy.” We suggest taking that a step further, and not just committing to telling the truth, but making your communication explicit. Your audience wants to know what the present and future holds; this is not the time to keep details in your back pocket. The more your customers, employees and outside audience know about your current COVID-19 situation, the more you can provide them with peace. Ignorance causes panic, especially when communicating internally. As a leader, seize the opportunity to provide credible and trustworthy statements by sharing information about how this crisis is affecting your business.
Any Communications is Public Communication
Communication is communication, right? Tell that to an internal communications professional and an external communications professional and you may get some push back. Truth is what happens internally can influence your bottom line. While messaging and content are being rapidly produced to keep up with COVID-19 daily updates, it’s important to remember that communication to your internal stakeholders can quickly become externally facing with the push of a button. Forwarded emails and screenshots can quickly reveal what was not meant to be shared. Remember to ask yourself if you are o.k. with your internal communication becoming public communication before you hit send.
Show Your Brand’s Human Side
It’s easy to worry how your decisions will look to outsiders, but in this unique pandemic crisis, truly everyone is affected and everyone is facing challenges. This is the time to be as honest and empathetic as possible when choosing your words. Be a human, talking to another human. It’s important to acknowledge the situation is stressful, everyone is facing unknowns, and unfortunately, your business may have to make tough decisions. It can be uncomfortable and unfamiliar to speak frankly, but the businesses who do it well earn respect from employees, customers and the wider public.
Don’t Stop Communicating
Now is not the time to be silent; it’s the time to tell your stakeholders, employees and customers how your company is handling the pandemic. As we noted earlier, it’s essential to communicate clearly with your audience. The best way to be sure that your story doesn’t get twisted is to provide cohesive messaging. Whether you’re sharing news in an internal email to your employees or a post on Twitter, the message must be consistent. Use your channels of communication to spread your story and take every step you can to increase your brand’s credibility through regular updates.
Need help perfecting your crisis communications strategy? We’re here to help. Drop us a line to learn more!