Companies that go to ground during this time and do not continue with any messaging face a risk – and that is the perception that you have shut down altogether.
It’s very difficult to come back from that perception - so communication with your customers, staff and suppliers is vital!
1. It’s important to get ahead of the coronavirus issue in all your messaging NOW.
Those companies who are continuing to advertise or social post as if it’s not happening risk damage to their brand.
2. What is your message for staff?
They will likely be feeling anxious about the future of your business and their job, as well as their own health safety while at work. If they are to work from home what is your message for them – how does that work and what are your expectations? Daily communication regarding this is vital.
3. What is your message to customers?
- How can you provide value to customers right now?
- What do they need to know about your products, services and delivery?
4. Ensure customer messaging is publicly available.
At the very least you need:
- A statement on your web site
- A post pinned to the top of each of your social platforms
- A FAQ document that helps people understand what’s happening
Review and update daily if required
5. Reference the situation without necessarily mentioning coronavirus if it’s not appropriate.
Say things like ‘in times like these’, or ‘while things are so stressful right now’ or similar. Review your messaging daily to ensure it’s appropriate.
6. Your messaging for both staff and customers should focus on the following:
be clear on your policies, employee needs, remote work, supply chain, business tracking and forecasts and how you provide a broader solution to the problem
7. Demonstrate being a good corporate citizen but not leverage the situation:
Provide value to customers, rather than trying to ‘sell stuff’.
8. Regular and consistent communication is important, especially during a crisis.
9. MOST IMPORTANTLY – DON’T BE SILENT:
Whatever you do, don’t stop:
• Communicating with staff and customers
• Social media posts
• Your blog
• PR media outreach
SHORT TERM – IN THE NEXT WEEK OR SO
1. Review what your competitors and other similar businesses in other markets (such as UK, US, Asia) are doing and saying:
Can you get ahead of their marketing? What can you learn from them?
2. Content will be king:
As consumers stay home or look to online portals to be informed, this spike in online content consumption will likely outlast the crisis period. Now is the time to be considering what kind of content you create, how you communicate with your clients on a regular basis, and ramping up your online presence – in relation to the current situation but also in general.
3. What can you do to be prepared for the next stage?
- Have you considered how you will handle this as a business?
- Do you need to change your offering – can it move online?
- Is there another or different product or service you could be offering?
- What is your plan to communicate these changes to staff and customers?
4. Do you need an issues management plan now?
- Is your business seriously at risk?
- What do you need to be saying to your customers now to avoid a major downturn?
- Have you considered the worst case scenario and how you will respond?
5. Continue PR but with a different message:
Now is not the time to scale back, but to scale up. ‘Coronavirus fatigue’ will begin to set in, Once the vital information is known, consumers will begin to switch off from the coronavirus issue. They may be looking for more positive stories, useful advice or something completely separate from the issue. Don’t break momentum with the media or step back from being the useful resource you have become.
LONGER TERM (NEXT MONTH)
1. Get your marketing house in order:
Use the slower business period to focus on doing all the things you never get a chance to do.
- Does your web site need updating (have you loaded all those media logos and articles onto your web site?).
- Do you have a mechanism to regularly communicate with customers? Do you need to create one?
- Get organised for remote working - do you have a decent webcam, microphone and lighting for media interviews from home, as well as the rise of video?
2. Prepare for a changed world:
For example there will likely be increased online shopping, online education, less of a desire to attend large scale events, online gaming
3. Prepare to relaunch efforts once the crisis has subsided:
It’s important to do this now, rather than wait until the crisis is over or you will be slow to generate new opportunities. Can you be creating:
- Customer loyalty programs
- Joint venture partnerships
- Incentives to draw customers back
- Develop themes that celebrate good health, summer, outdoors.