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Covid-19 Crisis Communications & Planning

This page is a message from our agency founder and president, Dan Cowling, on maintaining the continuity of focus, clarity and simplicity during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you have any questions, please reach out to him at dancowling@comgroup.com

We have had a tremendous amount of experience in crisis planning and communication.

An absolute key in a crisis like this is having a plan for how and what you communicate. The message has never been more important. Communicating and putting it into practice has never been more critical.

We want to share some lessons learned and successful keys to communicating in this environment in three key areas. Each of these areas are fundamental to winning in this situation.

  • Your day-to-day business
  • Your staff
  • Your individual well being

Crisis Planning for Day-to-Day Business

The only, certain way to fail is to do nothing. Have a plan. You know a lot about your company and your customers. Ask yourself and formulate (soliciting input from valued staff) answers to these questions:

  • In 35 words or less, what is the core message that I want to communicate about my business?
  • How am I addressing the changes that are occurring?
  • What are the services I provide that are most important from my client's perspective?
  • How can I provide these services with my employees working remotely for an indefinite period of time?
  • Is there an opportunity or need to provide new services?

First, understand that your customers know it's not business as usual, and they want to be reassured that you are adjusting on their behalf. Trust is even more important in this environment. Maintaining it will pay short and long term dividends.

Second, make sure each staff member has and can repeat your 35 word core message verbatim. This needs to be done TODAY. It needs to be focused. Laser focused. Once you establish this, make it a point to stay in regular contact with your customers. Make them aware of what you're doing.

  • Ask, "How are you doing?"  Sometimes your customers need a sounding board. If the relationship warrants it, be that person. Updates on positive news. Information on changes (for the good) that may benefit them. You've got it. Now do it.

Third, COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE. COMMUNICATE.

  • We've all developed technological capabilities. Now is the time to maximize the use of technology and as counter intuitive as it may seem, possibly investment spend in new technology if needed.

After you do this, go ahead and do it again. To your staff and customers.

Crisis Planning for your Employees and Staff

Make your staff completely aware of what your plans are, what you're doing and when.

Have daily staff meetings. Go To Meeting, Skype, Zoom are all good resources. If at all possible, use a meeting platform that allows everyone to see each other. Doing so helps reinforce the human aspect of what you're doing. Conduct the meetings from an agenda that you have shared with them. Let THEM talk. Your primary function is to facilitate covering the agenda.

Sample agenda

  1. Any glitches in our systems or processes? If so, address them immediately. Encourage your team to be part of the solution.
  2. Major developments since yesterday?
  3. Identify a "Win". Assign a staff member to share an overview of the win. Recognize the staff most directly involved. Good news is a great morale builder.
  4. Compliment the staff.
  5. Discuss upcoming projects, deadlines, etc.
  6. Other: always leave an opening for additional input
  7. End the meeting on a high note

** Follow up and offer positive, individual comment or input if you sense someone needs it. **

Crisis Planning for Leaders & their well-being

This situation is a two-edged sword. One edge is increased responsibility and pressure on you. The other edge is the opportunity to step out and really make a difference in someone(s) life. In times like this you may be one of if not the only real emotional anchor in this storm for employees and customers.

We've all heard the old adage who takes care of the caregiver. In this case you're the caregiver and the patient. Here are some tips for taking care of yourself.

  • Sequester. No kidding. You, your loved ones and staff are depending on you to make their well-being a priority.
  • Find your spiritual center and stay close to it 24/7. Nothing you can do will serve you better.
  • Have a plan and work it. It's amazing how productive and reassuring it can be.
  • Try and maintain something you enjoy from your "normal" personal routine as you can. Something you really like to do. Watch the sunset. Jog. Walk the dog. Read. Paint. Write. Play music. Spend some quality time with your family. But, SEQUESTER and keep your distance.
  • Stay in close contact with friends and family. Use technology for "face to face" communication as much as you can. Again seeing a face personalizes and stimulates a sense of intimacy.

 

Stay safe. Stay well. And WIN.

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