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POSTED 29.6.2020

Crisis Communications: five ways to change your focus

When the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic started to become clear, a lot of companies went into lockdown themselves – especially in the area of communications. Here are StoryLab's five tips for navigating the tricky world of crisis communications.

Many people forgot to delete scheduled social media posts that were inappropriate in the circumstances and others were afraid to put anything online in case they looked insensitive.

A Kantar survey carried out during COVID-19 found that the majority of the public did not want to see businesses exploiting the health crisis to promote their own brands but at the same time only 8 per cent felt companies should stop advertising.

This leaves a fine line to tread. But the only way to deal with such a situation is to change your focus. You can’t continue on as if nothing is happening.

The general public want to hear from you – they want to hear if you are being helpful, how you are reacting and how you are taking care of your employees.

Here are five ways to change the focus of your communication during a crisis.

1. Don’t stop.

While it can’t be business as usual, this does not mean you have to shut down your communications and PR activities. Do things differently. The audience and customers still want you, journalists still need stories but your marketing and PR plan needs to be more sensitive.

2. Be helpful.

Your audience might change during a crisis and their interests and priorities will definitely have changed. Examine how the crisis affects your product/service and communicate this to your audience. But do not look to be profiting from the crisis, rather see how you can help your employees, customers and community.

3. Be ready to react.

In terms of Covid-19, regulations are changing rapidly; keep up to date with the news and how it affects your sector. Ensure you inform your audience about changes to your services. Just because you might think it is obvious, it is not always. This is where your own social media channels will come into their own.

4. Be empathetic.

Be careful and think before you post. Some companies might be able to continue to post their regular content while sharing important information about the crisis while others will have to completely change your strategy. It is probably a good idea to tone down the humour – even if that is your usual tactic.

5. Prepare for your comeback.

A downturn or a crisis is exactly the time to look at all the messaging you have been putting off because you have been too busy. Get ready for when things start getting ‘back to normal’. Some ideas of work you could be doing behind the scenes include: branding or rebranding, creating your ‘story’, launching your website or refreshing your old one, tidying up your social media handles, creating a solid social media /marketing campaign, developing a podcast, writing evergreen blogs, creating case studies, gathering testimonials, writing profiles of your staff – the list is endless!

If you need help developing your communication strategy – whether in a crisis or generally, get in touch with StoryLab  on 01 6853029.