It’s fair to say that for most of us the novelty of working from home has worn off. There are serious decisions to be made that will impact on the lives of those around us. Uncertainty is causing anxiety and sleepless nights are becoming the norm. That is why we all need to focus on avoiding long-term damage during a crisis.
Business owners could be forgiven for finding these times the most stressful of their careers. Although most companies are facing the same challenges, the difference is how they are handled.
Stop, think, act
The best organisations are those that call upon the varied skills and quirks of colleagues. This means there are a range of personalities within a business to contend with. While during normal times this doesn’t cause too much of a problem, when times are tough these differences will be magnified.
Encouraging everyone within the team to stop, think and then act is just one approach that can dilute potential fallout. The last thing any company needs is for someone to make a rash decision that will have long-term implications.
Calling upon those with the most relevant expertise to lead is likely to deliver a more positive outcome. Carrying on with business as usual simply won’t work.
It is important that any company recognises the value in communicating clearly with its audiences. Not only does this gives customers, suppliers and staff the confidence they need, but it also reflects positively on the brand.
Taking the time to think carefully about what is being said and to whom is a good starting point. It is then about delivering these messages consistently and across the relevant channels.
As these are unprecedented times, audiences don’t expect that companies have all the answers. They do however want honesty and transparency. Authenticity is a word that is overused in PR but brands that can communicate in this way will almost certainly be most resilient.
Finding the silver lining
As contracts are cancelled, budgets are cut and staff are furloughed there seems to be no silver lining to this dark cloud.
During a crisis it is often best to say as little as possible and to stick to the facts, however there has never been a situation like this. Most businesses are facing the same challenges at the same time.
Rather than focusing entirely on the negative, use this as an opportunity. Share the values of a business and show what organisations are doing to support others. CSR (corporate social responsibility) is very much front of mind at present, so ensuring that this is communicated is essential.
It may be that employees are standing outside each Thursday and clapping at 8pm. A company could have turned its signage blue in support of the NHS, carers and frontline workers. People may be putting together care packages or supporting neighbours. Whatever a business is doing, it may be of benefit to let others know.
Using social media for the right reasons
In recent years, social media has commonly featured in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. It may be trolling, shaming or shared content that was intended to be private. Whatever the situation, social media channels have had their fair share of negative publicity.
That was, until now.
It’s been really enlightening to see social media channels including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn used for the right reasons. With light-hearted videos shared by companies and posts offering support, it has been a welcome relief.
Companies can use these examples as best practice and look at ways that they could do the same. As long as these posts are done for the right reasons, they will add personality to a brand and engage with audiences when it matters most.
Calling upon a network
When organisations are faced with a crisis it is often exclusive. This means that they are left to handle the approach, process and consequences alone.
In this instance, everyone is in the same boat. This therefore gives businesses the chance to call upon their networks for help and support. There is no shame in asking for advice and the same can be said for offering it.
Having a company can be isolating and lonely. At times like this it is essential that we all come together and do our best for the benefit of the wider business community. We can then do our best to avoid long-term damage during a crisis.
A focus on the future
While times are tough, we all need to remain focused on the future. There is light at the end of the tunnel, we just need to get there. It is going to take resilience, solidarity, effort, positivity and mindfulness.
These are all strengths we need to call upon and we will.
In the meantime, we need to communicate consistently, remember our values and try our hardest. Before long, we will get to a point where we can celebrate all that we have achieved when faced with unprecedented adversity.
Finding ways to be more progressive and to put in place an approach that works best for a business can be a challenge. We would urge any company of any size to consider the following:
- Stop, think and act
- Communicate clearly
- Try to find a silver lining
- Use social media for the right reasons
- Call upon your network
- Focus on the future
We hope that this will provide a starting point and a check list for organisations to work from. No company wants this, however having plans in place can support the present while also pathing the way for a brighter future. Hopefully then we can all work towards avoiding long-term damage during a crisis. For access to information and support about your PR, marketing content and social media please call a member of the team.