The COVID-19 pandemic has left many companies uncertain of how to communicate to both their customers and their employees. Simply ignoring the current events and carrying on business-as-usual could make your organization appear callous. On the other hand, trying to come across as an expert on something you don’t know much about could lead to issues down the road.
Communication can definitely get complicated very quickly and leave companies not sure how to proceed. To help you navigate this new territory, we have a few tips and best practices to take into account.
Five considerations for communicating your brand during this time of uncertainty:
- Stick to what you know and only what you know – Now is not the time to be an “expert” or “thought leader” on COVID-19. Leave that to the scientists and doctors. There is so much information, and misinformation, available right now, it could be easy to accidentally quote something that is false or misleading. Instead, discuss how your organization is reacting to this crisis. How are you taking care of your employees and your customers? For example, are you taking extra precautions and adding extra steps for cleaning at your office or facility. Or maybe you are adjusting hours of operation so employees can spend more time with their families.
- Communicate in a timely manner – As with any crisis, time is of the essence. Send your communications out swiftly, but not so fast they are riddled with errors. Make sure all communications are accurate. Trust is key right now, and putting out an email or article with mistakes could cause a ripple effect.
- Brand loyalty will play an important role – Remember all that time and resources spent building a following and generating a loyal following? Now is the time it will pay off. You know your audience and can tap into their concerns and needs, and respond accordingly. Not only are you reassuring your customers, but you are continuing to build loyalty with your brand.
- Communicate internally too – Everyone in your organizations should be on the same page when it comes to how to communicate during a time of uncertainty. Christina Newberry and Sarah Dawley from Hootsuite highlighted why internal communication is key in a recent Hootsuite article on crisis management:
Communicating internally is a crucial part of your crisis management response. This keeps everyone on the same page and helps to prevent misinformation and the spread of rumors. Make sure everyone in the organization knows exactly what they should (or should not) say about the crisis on social media.
Employees are already worried and stressed out, not knowing how they should respond to a customer question or concern surrounding this pandemic increases this anxiety. Not to mention, if you don’t any communication guidelines, you run the risk of having a miscommunication with a customer or on social media.
- Use a variety of brand communication vehicles – Email may be the easiest route of communication during a time of crisis, but not necessarily the best. Inboxes are already a pretty busy place, and solely relying on email for communication runs the risk of your message getting buried. Many people get their news through social media, so transmitting your message across many different channels increases your chances of your message reaching those that it should.As Jessica Nable form Target Marketing points out:
To ensure you reach your audience with time-sensitive, developing information, leverage a variety of owned, paid, and earned channels.
On top of using different communication channels, make sure to customize your message to fit each outlet and specific audience.
In summary: accurate, helpful and honest communication is key
At the end of the day, open, honest communication with customers and employees is what matters most. In a time of uncertainty, letting your customers know where you stand and what actions you are taking in their best interest will go a long way to making everyone feel just a little better.