The effects of Covid-19 have plunged the majority of UK businesses into survival mode, almost overnight.
Companies of all shapes and sizes are having to communicate complex messages to customers, staff and stakeholders; whether it’s relaying information around store closures, supply chain issues or explaining how services can be used to alleviate the strain of current conditions.
A solid communications strategy will be the cornerstone that enables businesses to retain stability through these uncertain times. Studies from the Great Recession show that those businesses that retained their PR and marketing comms throughout the recession recovered the fastest.
It’s times like these that we all need to help one another out; so we’re sharing our 5 key tips for implementing a sound communications strategy during the Covid-19 crisis:
Planning is your best friend in times of crisis. The implications of coronavirus are constantly evolving and need to be responded to appropriately. Don’t let your business get caught short. Instead, plan now for the possible eventualities which could be anything from office closures to infected staff members; supply chain issues to billing and payment issues. Map out all of the different possible scenarios, put in place processes and protocols that would need to be followed in each case, and have your PR team proactively prepare relevant press statements to cover these should you be approached by the media. Crucially, keep your PR team updated with any concerns you have as soon as they arise so they can advise on how best to contain and/or communicate the situation and develop best responses for damage control in case the situation spirals.
2. Be Human
Covid-19 is an extremely sensitive subject. When implementing communications strategies to relay information (good or bad) onto customers, staff members, or investors it’s very important to adopt a human tone of voice. During this time of isolation people are hungrier than ever for human interaction and this is of course a hugely human issue, so it’s important to present them with an approachable, empathetic and understanding voice, rather than churn out off-the-shelf updates and responses that simply get the job done. Your crisis comms will be met with greater understanding if they are delivered with human consideration and kindness. If you need support with nailing the right tone of voice, consult a PR agency for some friendly advice.
3. Be Creative
The effects of the coronavirus may mean your existing PR and marketing plans need to be adjusted for now, but that doesn’t mean your voice is lost – there are always ways to be heard. Yes, it’s important to be sensitive with your approach; don’t shoehorn your brand into the conversation for the sake of it and certainly don’t piggyback off the crisis for commercial gain but do find ways to be creative with your communications. The media can’t write entire newspapers and magazines focusing solely on Covid-19 and journalists are already crying out for more light hearted content, including human interest stories, thought leadership pieces and advice columns. Perhaps your business is well-placed to talk about ways of keeping healthy at home, how to optimise working remotely, or has some great ways to help people pass the time during self-isolation; maybe you offer training courses that can be moved online to give help and advice to professionals during this time. Now is the time to think outside of the box, be brave and try something new. Just make sure whatever it is will help people and is appropriate to be communicating about.
Here are some of our favourite examples of good Covid PR.
4. Be Proactive
If your business has something relevant and useful to say on the subject of Covid-19 (and that’s a big if) then do be proactive with your outreach. Now could be your moment to get on prime time TV slots and in the national newspapers by contributing something useful to the conversation. If you haven’t already, work with your PR team to put together a profile for a suitable spokesperson within the business – someone who knows the business inside out, is a strong communicator and comfortable being interviewed. Ensure they are media trained and fully briefed on the evolving situation, then initiate a proactive outreach strategy to engage the press in what your business is able to contribute to the conversation.
5. Be Vocal
One of humanity’s greatest fears is the fear of the unknown. Don’t keep your customers, staff and stakeholders in the dark – this is a time to be vocal. Make the necessary reassurances by providing regular updates on the things your customers or clients will care about and want to hear from you on – and be honest and transparent. Issue regular updates (if appropriate) that communicate that your business is up to date with the changing face of the situation and to show how you are handling current and prospective hurdles. This of course means staying up to date with the latest Government announcements and guidance from public bodies such as Public Health England and the World Health Organisation to provide the latest advice to your staff and where applicable, customers.
Need help or advice with your marketing and communications strategy? Get in touch.
James Crawford, Managing Director of PR Agency One will be happy to help and can be contacted on: 07793 441686.
For more information on Covid-19 visit: