During a time of crisis there is firstly disbelief followed by a frenzy of activity as we re-organise our personal and professional lives.
Some of this is displacement activity, done on the basis that it is better to keep busy and do something rather than to wait and see.
This is perfectly natural as none of us have ever experienced anything like this and so we have no reference point.
One thing that many years of business communication has taught me is that no matter the circumstance it is essential to keep channels of communication open.
Even if, as a business owner, you are short of time and resource, finding some window to connect with your customers and employees is essential.
Make use of any existing channels you have and if you lack expertise or time, there are plenty of people out there willing to support you.
From a short-term business communication point of view, here are five communication priorities for you to focus on over the next week or so.
1. Create a Covid-19 page on your website.
The words ‘Covid-19’ or ‘Coronavirus’ are what is on the front of everyone’s mind at present.
That is what they are looking for when they land on your website.
In the current circumstances, they want to know what you are doing about it and how it might affect any product or services they buy from you.
This applies whether you provide some kind of discretionary service such as a luxury product or something essential such oil / gas supplies.
You don’t need to publish a lot but focus on being clear about how you can provide your services in the current situation and what you can do to help your clients.
If you can, avoid saying that you are offering a FREE service – the whole world is doing that.
Instead position yourself as the person who can help with the problem. Put the relationship first and the money second.
Companies like LVHM, Brewdog and Pret-a-Manger are already standing apart because of the supportive steps they are doing to help in the current situation.
2. Be visible, especially if you are leader
If you are head of a company, no matter how small make sure that you are seen.
Image credit: Forbes.
Record a short video.
Record it on a web-cam, smartphone or digital camera and don’t worry too much about the quality of your own performance.
What counts at present is the fact that you are visible and that you are not hiding behind a corporate email wall.
Clients want to see and hear from those who are in charge and they can sense sincerity over commercial opportunism.
In my opinion not enough business leaders are doing this at present and most intriguingly we’ve heard almost zero from this country’s religious leaders.
Remember that your employees want to know that you are there for them and leading them through this.
Yes, they may already know who you are but don’t underestimate the power of a short 30 to 60 second personal video message.
Talking to a camera is strange at first but it will get easier the more frequently you do it.
Read Grow your Brand with good Media Communication Skills as this will give you some more insights as why this is make good business sense.
Now is not the time to be invisible.
When we all surface from our home bunkers a little blinking and a little dazed, it will be far harder for others to take notice of you if you have gone to ground.
3. Ask your clients what they need from you
Try not to assume you know what your clients need to hear.
Ask them how you can help them.
Receive some useful feedback and then tailor your communication more accurately.
You can do this several ways:
- Compile a form using Google Forms. Don’t make it too long, just 2 or 3 questions which you can embed on a webpage or Facebook
- Send out a survey using Survey Monkey
- Use a social media poll on Twitter or try Instagram Polls
Here are a couple of examples:
- Message from England Athletics CEO
- Tell Us A Few Things You’d Like to Know During the Covid-19 Crisis
The England Athletics page is a great example of reactive communication and if Chris Jones had been able to include a video message it would have been even stronger.
The second one is from Ignition Financial and whilst they are a client of Pelissier, I know that the things they are doing are being well received by their customer network.
When you do this, don’t be surprised by the results, often what we discover is very different from what we had assumed.
Of course, you don’t strictly need to send out a form or survey.
Instead, pick up the phone and talk to your main clients, the ones who you are mainly dependent on.
4. Be a frequent communicator
We are probably in for a long-haul.
Don’t go mad and send out a ton of information early on as you will just run out of puff.
Instead try to be consistent in sending out communications, whether it’s a couple of times a week or, if you have the resource, once a day.
Research shows that frequency builds credibility and trust, qualities that will stand you in good stead in the long term.
This is because frequency in communication creates a sense of normality.
With that sense of normality comes trust.
Trust also encourages customers to express their thoughts, ideas and feelings more willingly.
Especially if what you have to say is believable and helpful to them – something that answers a question, solves a problem or allays a fear.
5. Remember a lightness of touch
We all smile at the Italians singing on the balconies or the Spanish policemen playing the guitar.
Try to give your audience, whether they are clients, employees, families or friends something to smile about.
Smiling is infectious
you can catch it like the flu.
When someone smiled at me today
I started smiling too.
I passed around the corner
And someone saw my grin.
When he smiled I realised
I’d passed it on to him.
I thought about my smile and then
I realised its worth.
A single smile like mine could travel
right around the earth.
If you feel a smile begin
don’t leave it undetected
Let’s start an epidemic quick
And get the world infected
This poem is not by Spike Milligan as many mistakenly think.
Jez Alborough is a wonderful children’s author and illustrator, so if you have kids you may want to get some of his books.
If you need help…
Much of what I’ve outlined above you can do yourself but if you need help in drafting messages, creating forms or just a chat to work out what to do first, then talk to us.
If you need a specific expertise, we have an extensive network and I’m sure we can find you the right person or company.
Remember, the relationship comes first.
Tel: 07730 920 813