Why Communicating in a Crisis is Imperative + 4 Tips to Consider

March 28, 2020

Usually, the first week back after a holiday is hectic, working with your team to get up to speed on any new developments and moving forward on plans. But, throw a global pandemic into the mix, and you’ve got a completely different world to deal with. It’s what I experienced having come back to Canada from a 2-week family holiday on March 23.

As communications and engagement specialists, it’s in our DNA to communicate. First thing I did was touch base with the team and figure out how to triage clients’ communications needs. Then, we systematically figured out how we were going to amplify our own communications to help our clients navigate theirs both internally to their staff and externally to their clients. After this first week, here are some tips to help you better communicate as you navigate these unusual times.

Tip 1: Establish a Communications ScheduleBEFORE (3)

Kudos to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s communications team for getting him out doing press conferences every…single…day at a set time. Having the leader of an organization provide updates to stakeholders is paramount to help build confidence and provide answers to tough questions. Figure out how you will communicate and set a schedule.

Here are some examples:

  • Email newsletter tips: select a specific day of the week and time of day for this communication tool and be consistent! Figure out two or three key pieces of information you need to share. We recommend you confirm content only one day in advance as planning even a few days out will likely see your content be out of date.
  • Social media: select a few days of the week to share content. At this time of social media overload, be picky as to what you share each week. Consistent and regular themed communication on specific days and times is good, and then more urgent communications can be shared as needed.
  • Staff communications: your team and working conditions may look a little different right now but keeping staff well informed and apprised of what is happening will display good leadership and help build confidence. Keep in touch with a staff memo/email once a week and do follow ups where possible with your team via phone, conference call, or virtual meeting.
  • Client communications: if you’re a service provider, like Amplify Consulting, who works with other businesses and organizations on an ongoing basis, touch base often and set up a standing meeting once or twice a week. Your help is likely needed more than ever before, and if you can’t help with your specific service, you might able to provide ideas on what others have been doing to help your clients survive and thrive.

Tip 2: Take a Look at Your Marketing + Messaging ImmediatelyBEFORE (10)

The world looks different. Mirror that. If you’re sending out communications, don’t show your team in the office working as normal. Exhibit best practices of working from home or social distancing. If you have a regular running marketing campaign, check your messaging immediately. Likely you’re not operating in the same manner as you did a week or two ago. Have those changes reflected in your marketing and share with your customers information on how they can safely pick up supplies from your store or shop online.

Tip 3: Use Your Communications for Good and STOP the ShamingBEFORE (4)

These past few weeks have been an incredibly quick education for so many of us on how to operate during a global pandemic, and there is so much information out there. If stores have been slower to close than you think is appropriate, give them a chance. They’re likely trying to figure things out. If we all practice self-isolation and social distancing, chances are, they’ll close or change their practices quickly anyways. The shaming by some community members right now is quite frankly deplorable and asking us all not to shop at a store in the future hurts our communities. Remember to educate, not shame, because we’re all liable to make mistakes at one point during this crisis.

Tip 4: Brighter Days Are Ahead … Start Planning for that NowBEFORE (5)

Back in 2008, a company I co-owned experienced tremendous growth because we were working with business leaders who knew there would be better, brighter days ahead and they’d need to get ready. And you know what, they were right. Start planning now for what the future of your business looks like. Instead of this being the end of your story, consider this as a pause and a reset. Resilient people will adapt and innovate, coming out stronger.

Consider a few decades ago:  my Oma traded her wedding linens for a single cup of sugar back when she lived in Nazi-occupied Holland. My Opa watched his banker and a fellow shopkeeper shot for being out after curfew. My Oma and Opa emigrated to Canada with two small children to start a new life because the life they knew had changed completely. They adapted and thrived – and it wasn’t easy. I’m sure you too have those who have gone before you who have endured tremendous change and upheaval. Look to their story for strength, start planning, and share that positive outlook with others.

Keep communicating!