Like many of you, we at Wellons Communications have been closely following the developments related to COVID-19, or coronavirus, over the last week. We have been in constant contact with our clients through this time, helping them craft communications to employees and customers and take the right steps for them to share their messages.
Truly, none of us have faced such a widespread, global challenge before. Even so, as businesses craft essential communications during this time, general crisis communications cornerstones still hold true. If you’re a business that knows it needs to communicate but doesn’t know what, exactly, to say during this time, follow these guidelines that can be used in many crisis situations.
Be honest and direct with your customers and employees. Honesty is definitely the best policy when crisis hits. You have thought long and hard about what to do at your business to keep your customers safe, and you have put procedures into place. Telling your customers and employees about those plans in a clear way is the best thing you can do to reassure them when times get tough.
Show your support. It’s pretty simple—do the right thing. You care about your customers and your employees. Show them that you’re standing with them and doing everything you can to meet their needs and keep them safe.
Don’t be afraid to overcommunicate. At times like these, you really can’t overcommunicate. COVID-19, particularly, is a fluid situation. Where we are today with this crisis is worlds away from where we were a week ago, and a week from now might be even more different. Provide updates as things change with your business, and be timely about those communications.
Be consistent. When you have drafted a message that conveys the above points, don’t forget to carry it across all platforms. If you’ve drafted a letter or eblast, create a social media response plan that picks up the main points. If you have a social post, think about a suggested reply for employees answering phone calls or emails, as well. Make sure your messaging is aligned.
Be careful about making light of the situation. When we’ve reached a crisis level, the situation is serious. Look at your communications through a different lens, ensuring all your messaging conveys the gravity of the situation. You should also be wary about any messaging that comes off as trying to sell something. You don’t want to appear to be taking advantage of a serious situation.
Few of us were likely prepared for a situation like what we now face with COVID-19, but all businesses should have a crisis communications plan for situations like this. Whether you and your business are facing a natural disaster like a hurricane, an accident or tragedy or a global health crisis, the steps are generally the same—and you should have a plan.
If you need help getting started, don’t hesitate to reach out. We have extensive experience in crisis communications and messaging, and we’re here to help.