Reopening Businesses Will Need Creative, Comprehensive Communications Plans
As the coronavirus pandemic appears to flatten in Michigan, businesses are exploring creative ways to reopen. But it is far from business as usual, and it may stay that way for the foreseeable future. The threat posed by COVID-19 is still all-too real and companies will have to prove they cannot only operate safely but adapt to this new reality. Of course, returning to profitability is paramount but perhaps the biggest challenge for businesses is reassessing how they communicate with their internal and external audiences.
This “recovery” communications strategy begins with employees, many of whom may continue to work from home. Companies that make it a priority to check the wellbeing of remote employees will be rewarded with greater productivity and loyalty. This pandemic has brought to light the importance of being cognizant of the physical and emotional wellness, particularly remote of employees that do not have daily face-to-face contact. It’s also more important than ever that employees believe they are being heard and their concerns and ideas are given serious consideration.
It can be challenging to maintain cohesiveness of the work team when some or all operate from a remote location. Long gone are the days where a manager can walk the halls and check in on staff one-on-one or call a meeting in the conference room. Regular phone calls and ZOOM meetings, both individually, among team meetings and for the entire team needs to be a priority. Because they are on the frontline of customer interactions, during times of uncertainty and crisis employees are often your best brand champions.
This crisis also demands changes in how businesses communicate with customers. Strong brands have succeeded through forming an emotional bond with its customers. The brand messages a company has relied on in the past probably need to change. Now it’s more about what do people need rather than how does my brand sell them. That means listening to your customers and adjusting the tone of your communications as the health crisis and current events warrant. The nationwide protests over racial and economic inequality on top of the pandemic is evidence of this. People are looking for hope, reassurance, unification and your messaging should try to reflect those feelings. This calls for robust integrated marketing communications plan.
Along with aggressive media relations, businesses should draw upon a toolbox of marketing specialties including high level digital communications like video, webinars, blogs, video conferencing and continual social media activity. Despite best efforts, there will always be unforeseen problems so it’s also important for businesses to establish a crisis communication team.
A strong communications plan requires constant attention and updating and that is never truer than during these unprecedented times. As people look optimistically ahead for better days, companies that employ smart, thoughtful and frequent communications with employees, customers and other key audiences can not only survive, but thrive in the months ahead.