We’ve spoken to many founders and executives over the past month who are concerned about how to communicate with customers, prospects and their wider community during COVID. If they continue their “business as usual” communications, would it seem insensitive and out of touch? On the flip side, how can they offer an expert opinion when so much is changing and so quickly?
Here’s what we’ve been telling them:
- It’s critical that you address what’s happening, but don’t try to have all the answers. It’s an unprecedented time and things are evolving quickly—no one has all the answers. But it is important that you shift your content to address the new and evolving problems your customers, and industry, are now facing. We recommend positioning what you share as guidance and always include the caveat that things are changing quickly i.e. “here’s what we’re seeing and anticipate, but we realize this is a fast-changing situation.”
- Be generous with your expertise and counsel. You may not be an expert on the coronavirus, but you are an expert on your industry. What ripple effects are you seeing in the industry? What potential issues are you anticipating in the months to come and how can you help your customers prepare to navigate them? For example, here’s a great piece from our client Terry Robinson, CEO of Vox Financial Partners on the anticipated impact of COVID on upcoming regulatory deadlines.
- Collaborate with other experts. We recommend anyway, but during a crisis bringing in outside experts strengthen the message you are delivering and allows you to tap into new communities. We recently did a recorded webinar with Allan Rooney, founding partner of boutique law firm Rooney Nimmo, where he and one of his senior associates answered questions about the coronavirus Paycheck Protection Program. The webinar was moderated by the CEO and founder of Third Seven Capital, which not only added his target audience to the mix, but also acted as an endorsement of the information that was shared.
- In a crisis, people are looking for more direction—not less. We recommend creating at least one article or video per week (or more as new information becomes available in coronavirus crisis situation) that helps your audience solve problems in real-time. We understand many executives are concerned about adding to the coronavirus information overload many people are experiencing right now. But if your expertise can help your audience better interpret what’s out there it helps them greatly and establishes you as the thought leader on the topic. Here’s the reality of communicating in a crisis: if you’re not showing up as a helper, you’re going to get drowned out by the people who are.
- Use more video. Videos are a powerful medium, especially during a crisis. They allow people to connect with you on a more human-to-human level—whether you’re sharing important COVID-related information or business as usual content. In times like these, don’t worry about them being highly-produced. We’re all used to living room backdrops by now.
While nothing compares to the experience and impact of this global pandemic, we have helped navigate brands through a number of mission-critical crises. If you have any questions about how to communicate during this time, we’d be happy to jump on the phone and strategize.
We hope you’re well and staying safe!