'Crisis' Communications: Stay Positive, Stay Visible, Stay Present
Updated: Apr 7, 2020
We've worked closely with all our clients to rework their internal and external communications strategies in some shape or form due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
It was mere weeks ago that we were filming at conferences in Davos and Paris, unaware about the fact that the Coronavirus pandemic would hurtle its way across the globe and alter the way we and millions of people now live, work, socialise - and communicate.
For most people, this is the biggest crisis they've ever known. Of course, the biggest cost here are the human lives - and we are very aware that this is a conversation about humanity and health, finally taking precedence over the economy and financial gain - and rightly so.
But millions are also worried about losing their businesses, jobs, clients and customers. Which is why the right messaging can "make or break" a business in a moment like this.
This is referred to as "crisis" communications.
Crisis Communications for clients:
Crisis communications will very much depend on the brand, the size of company and the type of business.
For example, Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, sent out this heartfelt message to all easyJet customers who have had their trips cancelled.
Of course, his huge team of branding and PR experts will have helped him to ensure it has the perfect tone of voice, and felt both personal yet professional.
When it comes to adressing clients it's key to know what to say, HOW to say it, and when to say it.
Other brands, such as one of our client's Let's Day Out, have adapted their entire business model to be more in line with their customers - who are now stuck at home.
We helped transform the match-making and events app to become a leading online and virtual events platform in a matter of days, in a bid to combat depression and loneliness during the lockdown.
We worked with its CEO to communicate this through digital marketing, snappy social media content and a press release campaign.
Result? Let's Day Out, which is now Let's Day In, has more downloads per day than ever.
Crisis Communications - even if your business is doing well!
It's not just businesses who are "in trouble" who need to work on their "crisis communication".
Supermarkets around the world have been inundated with customers who are stock-piling due to the lockdown, resulting in a shortage of stock.
Amazon has seen such a sharp rise in online orders that the company has had to order an additional 100,000 staff to deal with high demand.
Deliveroo introduced a 'no contact' service at the beginning of the lockdown, meaning its customers still felt safe to use the service (great, reactive initiative).
These are great example of businesses who may be doing well financially, but still need to work on their communication and messaging in some shape or form in order to inform their customers and the public about next steps, safety measures and product information given the pandemic.
Crisis Communications for the public:
For other brands, it's a case of ensuring you still get heard, even when the focus has shifted.
Most charities right now, are struggling to raise funds right now as the focus is, naturally, on the Coronavirus pandemic.
As a result, we have been working closely with One Loud Voice and Zonta International, charities that fights for equality and women's rights, to ensure their great work can still carry on and remains visible to the public.
Crisis Communications for your staff:
Not to be overlooked is the significance of internal communications.
It's essential to keep your team productive, engaged, and also to protect your employees' mental wellbeing.
Are you being transparent and open, or are you waiting until the last minute to potentially have to deliver "bad" news?
What does the way you're handling this crisis say about you and your company ethos?
If you have offices around the world, how are you keeping the team spirit alive? Will you record a video message? Will you do a live announcement?
There's no one size fits all, and that's why you need to weigh your options, no matter if you're a start-up, or a multinational.
If you take away one tip when it comes to crisis communications, this is the one that resonates the best with us:
Leonard Saffir served as executive vice president of Porter Novelli, one of the largest public relations firms in the world. His impressive client list includes: Philip Morris USA, MasterCard, Pepsi Cola, Bristol-Myers, Mattel and Gilette.
But overall, it's worth remembering, that the Coronavirus pandemic, unfortunately won't be the first and the last crisis. Crises hit us every so often, and most of the time it's way beyond our control; a global financial crisis, a terrorist attack or natural disasters.
So for your team, your clients, and your business, you need to learn how to deal with "crisis communications" in the best way possible for you.
Rather than panicking, we liken a business crisis with going through severe turbulence when you're flying.
You're not going to crash, but it's a very uncomfortable, and at times, scary. So it's about buckling up, and riding through the storm - with a very, very good communications strategy.