The last couple of weeks have not been easy. The coronavirus pandemic is rapidly evolving. The guidance from state and federal officials is shifting and updating daily. Misinformation is rampant on social media. Therefore, it is more important than ever to communicate with your employees, customers and stakeholders to let them know how the coronavirus situation might disrupt and impact your business.
Life has changed. Your customers know it and are expecting changes, but they don’t want to be caught off guard.
If you are asking customers to follow new protocols, you need to let them know as soon as possible and communicate with them via email, phone, website or social media.
If you change your hours, communicate that on all channels and social media platforms. Check your analytics, what platforms do people engage with you the most? This is important planning that will save time when it counts.
One of the biggest mistakes a business can make is lack of communication and planning. Leaders need to be more responsive and available than usual and communication must be frequent. Poor planning can lead to delayed communications, scrambling to create graphics, assets and messaging.
Take cues from officials to create scenarios for your business. See what is happening elsewhere in the country and world and imagine how it will impact you.
- In New York, Governor Cuomo has asked all businesses to voluntarily close and have people work from home. Cuomo is considering making it mandatory. How would that mandatory order affect your business? Are there graphics that you can make now so they are ready at a moment’s notice?
- In Pennsylvania, on March 15, Governor Tom Wolf ordered all restaurants and bars statewide to close dine-in service.
- The CDC has recommended no gatherings of more than 50 people for eight weeks. That takes us to May. Are there events you need to consider canceling now? Is there software you need to research to conduct mandatory meetings online or via phone conferencing? Planning for scenarios like this with your key team members will help reduce the stress should they come to pass.
While the situation is far from stable, and is bound to change by hour, there are things businesses can do to prepare. Run scenarios, create messaging and graphics for those scenarios, familiarize yourself with trusted websites like departments of health and the CDC. Write out statements, get feedback, and consult with communications professionals ahead of time. There’s no way to know if you over-prepare, but it will be abundantly clear if you under-prepare.