From state mandated K-12 virtual learning to the closure of restaurant dining rooms and bars – the current news cycle has been a wild ride for the general public and the business community. The spread of the COVID-19 virus is an unprecedented public health crisis that is stretching even the most seasoned professionals’ crisis communications experience. So, what should businesses do when most of what was planned, scheduled, or drafted is no longer relevant (or appropriate)? How should you be navigating COVID-19 communications?
Postponements or suspended operations may be top of mind for your business or organization – but what happens next? The truth is, we don’t know. Which is why it is so important to be in constant communication.
Be proactive and reach out to:
- Share updates and research findings
- Brainstorm and discuss different scenarios
- Ask questions
- And more importantly – to show you care
Pause All Scheduled Social
I’m going to say it again for the people in the back: pause all of your scheduled social media posts now. Press conferences are being held daily and the breaking news cycle shows no signs of slowing down. Promo codes and memes are not appropriate for many industries at this time. Consumers are looking for hours of operation updates, delivery options, safety precautions, and the basic acknowledgment of how state and federal orders may impact your business offerings. Given the current climate, best practice is day-by-day posting.
Add Press Conferences to Your Calendar
To be a guiding resource you need to be in the know. To be in the know, you need to add press conferences and briefings to your calendar. When does the governor address your state? Is the mayor addressing your city? Follow local reporters and your elected officials on Twitter. In the last week, drastic but necessary measures have been issued during these press conferences to flatten the curve and protect the public. Add them to your calendar.
For many of us, pandemic communication is a new phenomenon. Whether you are in an internal or external communications role, we are all adjusting to a new normal – personally and professionally. Be flexible and understand that what we know today may change tomorrow.
Crisis communication is complex and the spread of the COVID-19 virus is uncharted waters across industries. Being a supportive PR partner in this unsettling time is more than simply sharing your crisis communications knowledge or experience. It’s about empathy. Champion transparency, provide guidance on best practices, and pivot as needed.