While everyone adjusts to the new normal of everyday health updates and recommendations, and social distancing, businesses are working through drastic changes to their operations and communications with customers.
To best respond to the situation, we’re offering some insight and advice for brands to use as they communicate the latest changes and updates to employees, clients, and customers.
Stick to your corporate communications plan
As we’ve seen numerous businesses ask their employees to work from home—while others are closing for social distancing to flatten the curve of the spreading virus—communicating to both employees and customers has been the top priority.
Sticking to the corporate communications plan you created for this situation is important yet being flexible for the ongoing updates is critical. Meet regularly with your team of leaders to monitor the situation and communicate with employees early and often. Determine what information to share and be consistent in your sharing, whether that be through email, phone calls, in-person meetings, social media, press conferences or other means of communication.
This will put the focus on the situation and allow you to adjust your message as updates occur. You don’t need to have the answers to all questions—be honest and open to maintain credibility.
Basecamp Co-founder and CEO Jason Fried shared his internal email to all employees on LinkedIn which asks everyone to find what works best for them as far as tending to children and home obligations while working from home.
Don’t forget B2B communications
Much like communicating to customers, B2B companies should communicate operations changes that affect their clients. Even though you’re dealing with businesses, you’re still communicating to people at those businesses who are impacted in the same way B2C brands’ customers are impacted. The impact for B2B is even more so, in some cases.
For example, at DEG we sent out an email to our clients ensuring that we have a plan in place to both prioritize the health of our employees and continue to provide the same support and services as usual.
Address customer concerns with relevance & transparency
First and foremost, brands need re-evaluate—and potentially pause—the currently scheduled content they have planned for the next couple of months.
When it comes to customer communications, you need to focus on what’s important to the customer. Twitter offered insights into how to consider what communication is appropriate for brands and what people may need during this situation. The best advice: don’t be tone deaf with your communications.
Brands should absolutely communicate any changes in operations that will affect other businesses or their customers. Be thoughtful and check if your follower base is asking questions about your business and the impact of COVID-19. Then, respond accordingly.
In some cases, communications can even be taken a step further. Some technology businesses have shared messages of support and offered free services to those affected by the situation. For instance, Zoom CEO Eric Yuan gave his videoconferencing tools to K-12 schools for free as they transition to virtual teaching.
Reset your content strategy
First and foremost, brands need re-evaluate—and potentially pause—the currently scheduled content they have planned for the next couple of months. Consider if the messaging and creative are still relevant when so many are staying home and limiting contact with others.
Pivot any campaigns to better suit the current situation. Can you offer entertainment through the use of technology like Twitch, or provide virtual options, such as the educational livestreams happening at many zoos? Or can you adjust your messaging to provide levity and the relevant information people are seeking?
No matter what direction your messaging takes, remember it’s always important to acknowledge what’s going on and be supportive of the community. Sharing policies and adjustments to make a difference at this time is a no brainer as everyone considers which businesses to continue briefly visiting or purchasing from online.
The key is communicating convenience. Brands must show how they’re adapting—curb-side pickup, free delivery, etc.—to cater to customers’ new social distancing practices.
Consider how you may be able to showcase community efforts or subtle messaging about your business without directly asking consumers to “buy more” or “do this.” Take people’s minds off the situation and build consideration for future visits and purchases.