Communicating During a Time of Uncertainty
A lot has changed overnight. I’ve spent the last couple of weeks trying to understand the best ways to help clients navigate and what strategies to integrate during these uncertain times. Unlike other disasters, this event is unprecedented. I recently listened in on a webinar hosted by the PRSA, where the presenter outlined what made this event so much more challenging. A few reasons include:
- It’s a public health crisis – sadly people are getting sick, and they’re dying
- It’s a business and economic crisis – that affects revenue, increases costs, disrupts operations and will have a meaningful impact
- It’s a social crisis – governments are implementing shelter-in-place and social distancing mandates to limit physical interaction, forcing us to rely on technology to communicate and engage.
As the infection from the COVID-19 progresses, the latest data is predicted to peak in the US in mid-April, it’s more important than ever for PR and businesses to put humanity first. For PR agencies, that means checking in with your stakeholders — employees, contractors, reporters, industry analysts, and clients.
For clients, an agency can help support them in light of this unprecedented and evolving situation. Here are some thoughts:
- Put humanity first, period. Aside from checking in with your network, listen, be empathetic, and be prepared to adapt.
- For PR pros, don’t be an ambulance chaser doing unnecessary marketing and PR campaigns that blatantly attempt to take advantage of the COVID-19 crisis. Be a resource only if you have something of value to contribute. For example, if you’re a service provider, you likely have information on Internet traffic patterns and activity that can be valuable to a reporter.
- Take advantage of video conferencing tools such as Zoom to connect with clients and employees. Some of the more extraverted clients and employees are likely missing the lack of socialization and will appreciate the face-to-face connection.
- Be prepared to adjust, help a client, and show your value beyond being a PR professional. Ensure you’re regularly asking how to improve and make proactive recommendations on where you can add value.
- Be mindful of how you are delivering your content. Is the content agile enough/suitable for the virtual environment? While good writing is still more important now more than ever, sometimes video, infographics, or other visuals may be more effective at telling your story.
- Be prepared for re-entry. I know it seems like that’s a way out, and another month of social distancing can wear on even the most introverted introvert, but this virus will peak and pass. The business will continue. Be prepared to work with employees and clients to navigate the challenges and be ready to come back.
- Remind clients of the importance of being ready for the rebound. It may take longer than we had hoped but keep stakeholders focused on the future and work with them to prepare when the economy opens up again.
- Learn and adapt — like in any catastrophic event, we can learn, adapt, and be better, be more efficient, and, more importantly, put humanity first.
As we’ve learned from other adversities, whether natural disasters or financial crises, this will make us stronger, better, and more likely to adapt to doing things differently.
With all of this in mind, to help keep people safe, Engage PR is offering any B2B technology organization a free virtual consultation to help leaders communicate effectively with their customers, partners, and other important audiences. To get started, please contact us.