Communicating through Coronavirus

Written by: Cassandra Bailey

There is one thing certain about the coronavirus: it is creating a tremendous amount of uncertainty.  That’s a big problem for business since people buy less and delay more during times when there is a lot of uncertainty.  Right now, there is a complexity to the challenge due to widespread inactivity in the world’s workshop (China) and people’s fear of being around other people.  When both products and people come to a halt, business stops as well.

There are two important steps business owners can take to reduce the impact of the coronavirus on their bottom line: communicate a lot and communicate thoughtfully.  

Communicating A Lot

We all know that gossip and misinformation spreads rapidly during a crisis.  Companies that communicate the most often have the best chance of countering dangerous and misleading rumors and lies.  They fill the gap with real, relevant, meaningful information. That instantly gives them the advantage of leadership because they are communicating when others are not.  

For product companies, there should be a steady flow of emails, messages, and posts about supply, distribution, shortages, and availability.  For service companies, there should be communication about hours, availability, limitations on service, new ways to receive service, and any other people-related messages.  Just as important, there should be a person designated to listen for people’s worries, concerns, and fears. They should provide what information they can and answer questions people have. Communicating consistently means both sharing and responding.

Communicating Thoughtfully

Communicating thoughtfully is particularly challenging during a crisis because companies often don’t have all the information they need.  Doing it well requires the guidance of a strategist who thinks about each and every word that is shared. They know the pros and cons of different types and methodologies of communication and can weigh options quickly.  Be intentional about having a communications strategist on your team during a crisis, and your investment will pay off in terms of positive brand interactions and the avoidance of missteps.

The timing of the global coronavirus outbreak is particularly bad for businesses that invest heavily in conferences and trade shows, which occur frequently in the Spring.  Many companies use these trade shows as ways to communicate with customers, partners, and prospective customers. This opportunity should not be lost just because the show is cancelled.  Instead, smart companies should make plans to use that time well by having personal video conferences with their targeted audiences, sending them gifts or promotional items, and demonstrating thought leadership via webinars or eBooks.  

Finally, it’s important that you communicate just as often and as thoughtfully with your internal audiences as you do with customers and investors.  Employees and prospective employees are suffering just as much fear and confusion. An internal communications strategy, including opportunities for people to ask questions, must be part of an overall plan.

If you need help communicating consistently and thoughtfully now or at any time, our entire team at Slice Communications is here for you.  Contact us, and we’ll get right to work helping you navigate this challenging time.

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