Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has urged people to ignore rumours and fake news about COVID-19 on social media. These messages are scaring and confusing people and causing real damage. He’s right to say that.
It’s important to get the facts, not the rumours and misinformation. Get the good info only from official, trusted sources. As the coronavirus crisis evolves, so too does anxiety but that can be more easily prevented.
Since the announcement of measures to preserve public health, hundreds of businesses including restaurants, pubs and shops have temporarily closed their doors. They’re acting to protect their families, staff and customers from COVID-19.
As a small business based in the heart of Sligo town, we’ve seen several much-loved and thriving businesses make the decision to temporarily shut their doors until we know where we’re headed.
Part of StoryLab’s role in working with clients is to identify challenges and plan how to overcome these. And that’s what this coronavirus is, a challenge for all businesses including our own.
Here are our five tips for the next few weeks.
Looking after your health and the health of others is the number one priority in this pandemic, but that includes looking after your mental health. Coronavirus anxiety is just as contagious. Watching businesses close their doors can create panic; seeing the supermarket shelves stripped of goods in wild shopping sprees can create panic; hearing your phone beep with messages from WhatsApp groups sharing rumours, opinion and utter nonsense can create panic. It’s an uncertain time, but keeping a cool and calm mind will help you approach any business challenges with more ease.
Stay informed and wash your hands of misinformation
Stay informed – but not through hearsay, and not through memes! Seek information from trusted news sources only. Follow @HSELive and @WHO or @RTENews on Twitter for real facts. Leo Varadkar tweeted that we should only seek updates at certain times of the day. We agree – constantly checking your phone for new information is not helpful when trying to stay calm. Limit your update checks to morning and afternoon, and chill out in the evening.
Keep communication open
As a business owner, you have a responsibility to your employees to keep informed so you can plan your next move and communicate clearly with them. Update your staff on any new changes to the business, whether it’s good or bad; it’s important to keep them in the know. Be completely transparent. Focus on what you can control.
Social distance but stay social!
If you’ve made the decision to shut your café/restaurant/shop/ over the next few weeks, this doesn’t mean you have to lay low online. Share good memories – your customers miss you and will be back as soon as it’s safe; let them know you’re looking forward to welcoming them back. Businesses and organisations should also check through any upcoming scheduled content for anything that may look inappropriate or contain the wrong kind of tone or humour in the light of what’s currently happening.
Keep going, create, brainstorm, plan ahead
This pandemic is possibly one of the biggest challenges any business will have to deal with. But by working through any challenge, you will find new opportunities. We’re less than a week into social distancing and the closing of businesses, and already it’s difficult. But make the most of any downtime – take the time to update your firm’s success stories and hero case studies and get those evergreen blogs in the bag. Shape your new content and have it ready to roll for when the doors reopen – as they will. It may be that your business is in demand right now –if you are in that fortunate position, make sure you send the message that it really is business as usual.
Above all, keep it lit!
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