Recent weeks have been a crash course in crisis communications for every single employer, no matter their size, location or business function. We are running at pace, with a changing situation and decisions made ‘on the fly’ which can have a huge impact on your business, its employees and our wider society. In addition, we’re experiencing information overload, with media and online chatter crowding our brains with a huge amount of information.
We asked our team of expert communicators to highlight their three key pieces of advice for communicating in a Covid-19 world. This is what they told us…
1. Put your employees first
If you’re a business owner or team leader, you will no doubt have to make difficult decisions in the coming weeks and months as part of your crisis management. How you communicate those decisions will make a huge difference to your staff and your reputation in the long term.
Consider all the questions your staff may have and write a Q&A setting out where you stand. Asking these questions may be confronting, but you need to demonstrate that you’ve thought of the short, mid and long-term business challenges to help allay staff worries and minimise internal chatter, which can be incredibly damaging.
In crisis situations you don’t need to know the answer to every single query. At the moment, no-one does. Be honest. Making false promises now won’t help in the long run so, if you can’t give a definitive answer, give a timeframe for when the situation will be reviewed again.
Don’t forget that every communication you send to your staff during a crisis has the potential to be leaked, such as the example below from Britannia Hotels. Above all, show compassion. We’re all in this together and hope to come out of it on the other side with minimal cost to our health and livelihoods.
Aviemore Coylumbridge Hotel sent this letter to staff today. Not just fired but chucked out of their accommodation with no notice and no redundancy pay! @BritanniaLtd Britannia Hotels should be ashamed of themselves. Certainly no “room at the inn” here, disgusting. pic.twitter.com/p6ZB2IYfoK
— John G. Burns (@ScaryHighlander) March 19, 2020
2. Consider your contribution to the community
Our islands are pulling together in unprecedented ways and if your business can make a meaningful impact, consider how to safely implement ways to help others. For instance, can any staff unable to work join the growing army of volunteers?
Businesses who sincerely demonstrate altruism will be remembered in the future. This is not a time for marketing ‘ploys’ however, so think through your strategy carefully and ensure that benefitting others is your primary goal.
3. Keep in touch
Use existing channels including social media and your database to let people know the basics such as how they can contact you and what processes may have changed.
Now more than ever we’re experiencing the power of social media. Consider how you can contribute to the conversation, even if it’s just with a positive story or a human perspective. Consider spreading your messages to a wider audience with some cost-effective social media advertising.
If you need help, get in touch. We’re continuing to work from home, advising and guiding new and existing clients on their communications in the ‘new world order’ of a Covid-19 world. Whatever the size of your business we will have a package to help, or just a friendly ear for a chat.
Take care and stay safe.