Businesses have been feeling the impact from the coronavirus crisis for a while now as its employees, clients and the public continue practicing self-isolation and social distancing. In a crisis communications situation like this, communications strategies are more important than ever. Maintaining a calm, unified brand voice and keeping open channels of communication is key.
Regardless of the type of brand, we believe reacting to the coronavirus outbreak should follow the guidelines of a typical PR crisis. Although today’s modern era has been a setback for many businesses, following a crisis strategy can help brands get a head start on how to adjust and communicate with its audiences and the public. By looking ahead at the coming months and taking the necessary steps now, your company can survive, and business can return to near normal. Once the virus dissipates, it will be a case of economy catch-up and businesses that are taking action now, will thrive once again. In order for your company to prepare, we are recommending the following steps:
- Appoint a response team
During a crisis, having a response team will ensure the organization is able to react fast and speak with one voice. This can be difficult if multiple people begin to speak on its behalf. Therefore, if the business does not already have a response team in place, now is more important than ever to appoint an effective team made of both in-house professionals who have inside knowledge of the company and external experts who view the crisis from a journalistic perspective.
- Listen to the CDC
It is extremely important to listen to the CDC’s recommendations and follow its guidelines. Although this may impact the company, it will prevent potential scandals from circulating in the eye of the public. With a health crisis like COVID-19, it is important for people to know that the company is taking the health and wellbeing of its staff and the public seriously.
- Communication is key
Is your restaurant still open for take-out and delivery? Has your business launched new online initiatives? People crave information, especially during a crisis. It is important to let the public know what plans have been set into action and/or what plans the company is currently working on. Not only do people want to be informed on current events, they also want to be assured that future plans exist ahead of COVID-19.
- Consider your audience and platforms
It is important to first consider the company’s audience and then the platforms that will best deliver its message. A restaurant that is still open for take-out and delivery should post this on the website homepage. It is important to note if information is not easily available, it will not be seen. Also understand that the restaurant’s customers may not visit the website as frequently as you do. That is why it is crucial to also consider which social media platform(s) will help the company best reach its targeted audience. Is your restaurant young and trendy? Take to Twitter and Instagram. Is it more family-oriented? Facebook will be your best option.
- Monitor the brand
Assessing the brand’s image is especially important during the COVID-19 crisis. The most effective component during this time is understanding what various audiences and stakeholders are saying about the company at any given moment. Has your restaurant been offering excellent customer service recently? Did it forget an order? Establishing a monitoring system that uncovers both negative and positive trends and feedback will help the company learn what changes need to be made and what it is doing effectively so it can better serve the public during this troubling time.