The economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis is expected to reach into billions of dollars of lost revenues, with entire economies being turned on their heads.
But like other crises, it will end. Timing is a mystery and although the full impact is unclear, the COVID-19 crisis will not last forever.
The question is, what should businesses do to successfully recover from these exceptional circumstances?
Some years ago, I worked with a seasoned crisis communications practitioner with an established reputation for successfully navigating clients through extenuating circumstances. When handling an issue with a shared client, one team member piped up, “I hope this blows over”. With that, my colleague looked squarely at the team and stated, “There is no hope.” And as unsettling as that sounded at the time, she was right.
Businesses that rely on hope to navigate rough waters open themselves up to an uncertain future. Coming out of the other side of a crisis requires disciplined planning, unwavering confidence and intentional proactivity.
How your business fares in one, two or six months from now is entirely within your control. And, now is the right time to start your recovery.
Here are three proven steps that we share with clients to help ensure business continuity in uncertain times:
They say that, “Prevention is the best medicine”. But, to be prepared you need to understand the environment.
Effective communication is achieved when there is alignment between audiences, channels and messages. We ask clients to take stock of more than what is going on in the moment. Monitoring conversations on digital channels and stories shared through media outlets provide valuable insight into the pain points that are being experienced by customers, suppliers and investors; and, those of their competition.
This is not the time to stand still. The COVID-19 crisis is an opportunity for businesses to take a step back and reflect on their short- and long-term plans. Successful businesses anticipate customer needs and use data-driven insights to make informed decisions that affect business continuity. We use this time to create an agile communications roadmap that equips senior leadership with information and tools to help them make informed communications decisions.
Many companies lose out on improving connections with customers because they scale back communications efforts when they are needed most. Although overly simplistic, the adage, “Buy low, sell high” accurately depicts how to win in the stock market. The assumption is that the investor has insight into the peaks and valleys of the market, giving them the upper hand. While we don’t know when the COVID-19 crisis will end, history tells us that it will pass like any other crisis. And like any investment, starting early yields the greatest dividends.
We are telling clients that the COVID-19 crisis is a perfect moment to reveal the character and culture of their brand and a prime opportunity to communicate short- and long-term plans. For example, sharing how they are operating during the crisis; how they are working with employees and customers to deliver business continuity; or, revealing any upcoming initiatives that will help their customers successfully recover from the COVID-19 crisis.
Customers are looking to us for guidance, and proactively addressing their concerns goes a long way to building trust and reassuring them that we are acting in their best interest.
For some companies, preparing communications plans during times like this is part of their DNA. But there are many organizations that are underprepared to adapt their communications strategy for the COVID-19 crisis, and several that do not have one at all. Although it is simple, we have prepared a basic version of our planning resources to help businesses think about their key stakeholders, and how they can protect their business during the COVID-19 crisis. The resource can be downloaded by filling in the form below
Download the COVID-19 Communications Planning Starter Kit