Michael Layne, Founding Partner and President of Marx Layne & Company

I recently wrote a blog about how the crisis you get is the crisis you least expect.

Little did I know, just two weeks ago, that the Coronavirus that was big news in China would now dominate the media in the United States, and spread from the West Coast to virtually every state in the nation, including, now, Michigan.

As the Coronavirus continues to disrupt lives, its implications are impacting businesses in all sectors. Communication to all stakeholders — including customers, vendors, employees, clients, patients, students, etc. — is now critical for business’ long-term success.

The Coronavirus presents numerous unprecedented challenges to every business entity. Locally, we now find universities transitioning to virtual classes, a fear among customers about venturing into business establishments, worry among employees, and even concern about catching an Uber.

I do believe we’re at the beginning of a pandemic in Michigan, that clearly appears to be growing rather than declining in its spread.

In this day and age of digital communications, it is now more important than ever that entities employ the most immediate, direct, effective and continuous techniques to communicate to all internal and external audiences while retaining customer loyalty throughout this unforeseen health care crisis.

First, establishing a crisis communications team is critical. This team must be prepared to develop and deliver clear, concise messaging 24/7.

All possible digital vehicles to communicate with targeted audiences must be established, including but not limited to: Email database dissemination, text messaging, video blogs, as well as personalized phone calls to key audiences. Get comfortable with video conferencing — it could be the wave of the future.

This is not a communications issue that is a one-and-out situation. It will require constant communication, attention and effort.

Businesses are going to experience a decline during this crisis.

The real issue is when we come out of this, how do you stay in touch with your customer base and rebuild? Those who communicate with frequency will come out strongest in the end.

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