Crisis Communication During COVID-19
As the world turns on its head during the unpredictable era of COVID-19, business owners around the world are left in a panicked state of crisis with no clear timeline insight. The rapid-fire information drilled from news outlets and the evolving state of the Coronavirus infection itself creates a pain point when it comes to sharing reliable, steady information. In a time of crisis where control feels lost, it’s imperative to empower your brand through clear, thoughtful, and honest communication. Let your customers know you’re with them every step of the way – you’re there to serve as a trusted resource through thick and thin. We’re sharing Margaux’s Crisis Communication During COVID-19 in order to help guide you through these uncertain times with a clear voice and strong presence.
Turn Vulnerability Into Empathy To Connect With Your Community
First, let’s talk about vulnerability. Vulnerability is at an all-time high during crises, as weak points of your business are exposed. The “V” word gets a bad rap because it’s synonymous with “weakness”, but we think utilizing vulnerability as a reflection and connection point is deeply empowering for brands. How can you take vulnerability and turn it into a strength? The answer is by connecting to your base through empathy.
Whether you are directly or indirectly affected by the crisis at hand, it’s extremely important to show both empathy and humanity to stakeholders, consumers, and the world at large. Choosing to sit in silence may be seen as indifference or affirmation of guilt. Effective crisis response is timely and conscious. It’s a pure-hearted demonstration of considerate awareness and persistent attention to the situation throughout.
Honesty Is The Best Policy, Always
A crisis is usually a breeding ground for misinformation. Although emotions can run high and the desire to smooth things over at any cost may consume you, staying grounded with truth will consistently prove to be your guiding light through this process because you will gain and cement your consumer’s trust. Before stating the facts, begin with a statement of values, purpose, priority, or intent.
Tell the truth and be direct with what you do and don’t know, however, convey a positive message that balances urgency and prevention of panic. Address all relevant elements of the problem, in this case of COVID-19: public health, business, economic, information, and social crisis. Find opportunities to be relevant and authentic, offering ways that you will work to serve your community.
Be proactive, rather than waiting for conditions to change. With COVID-19, conditions change every day, remain nimble and flexible. Invoke feelings of positivity by reminding followers that the crisis will end and there will be a new normal when companies begin to reopen – and that you will be there ready to serve them on Day 1. Although it’s important to be prepared with a strategic business plan for reopening and relaunching, you must also make the plan as nimble as possible, adapting to the ever-changing conditions of the crisis.
In times of crisis, it is extremely important for businesses to stay on top of the news in order to build trust for their consumers and serve as a resource for accurate information. Speaking out in times of crisis, where information is incomplete, businesses may be silenced because they are too afraid to comment without the security of stable information. Although that’s understandable, this can be DETRIMENTAL to the line of trust from consumer to business.
Even without enough information, companies can put together a structured statement in the meantime while they are in the process of learning more. This statement must acknowledge the crisis, express empathy for those directly and indirectly affected, values of the organization in response, the company’s approach to the crisis, and procedural commitment to this approach.
To Pitch or Not to Pitch
If you’re still in business and working on pitches right now, you’ll want to be conscious of the content you’re pitching to journalists. With a worldwide crisis sweeping the nation and consuming the media, a journalist will likely not appreciate reading a story that doesn’t align with news they’ve been covering. Making a journalist feel as though you’ve wasted their time or disrespected their current work can affect your relationship with that journalist. This may lead to a break of trust and even public shaming, and frankly, nobody got time for that. In order to avoid this, do your research.
Figure out what target media outlets are currently covering and pitch stories that are relevant to the news they have been actively releasing. Be an ally for that journalist, build the foundation of trust rather than break it with one unsuitable pitch.
With emotions at an all-time high, it’s very important to remain humane in crisis communication with journalists. Journalists dealing with their own ramifications from the crisis, so be strategic and considerate with who you contact and in what manner. With the current spread of COVID-19, it’s highly possible that the journalist may know someone who has fallen ill or are having a hard time adjusting their work to the lockdown. We must remember that we are all in this together, show kindness and support to those around you and build this world back up together.
To wrap things up, implementing these key best practices in managing crisis communication will help your brand navigate through painful uncertainty and re-shape your relationship with vulnerability. In the wake of COVID-19, it’s important to implement clear communication as the North Star your brand follows. That way, people will rely on your brand as a valuable resource long after lockdowns have been removed and we begin to reshape our world.
Are you in need of branding, web design, social media marketing, or PR support Services at this difficult time? Our team at Margaux has put together several relief packages that can help your business stay at the forefront of your consumers and consistently deliver awesome content. For more information and pricing on these packages, reach out to Margaux Agency today for a quote.