With coronavirus news and stories swirling by the second, it’s easy for brands—let alone, people—to be overwhelmed by constant updates on a local, national and global scale. That’s why we advise that it’s important to operate from a place of facts, not fear.
As communicators and marketers, it’s our job to share the facts—and help stop the fear—among our key audiences. A handful of Dixon Schwabl’s partners have reached out to ask how they should communicate with their key audiences, both internally and externally, and we’ve already been approached by the media on behalf of our clients.
Preparation is key in any crisis communications. If you haven’t started a communications plan yet—for coronavirus or any other potential crisis on your radar—now is the time. Just like people, brands are resilient. But that means you need to be prepared, thoughtful and in control of your message.
As you prepare and execute your plan, keep in mind this important checklist to keep your messaging appropriate to each of your audiences and in line with your communications strategy.
Write down all audiences you need to communicate to—both internally and externally: employees, customers, students, sponsors, families, media, etc.
Who will be the “face” of your communications efforts on an internal and external level? Who can your audiences contact immediately for questions, feedback or concerns?
Once identified, make sure these spokespeople are prepared with the right messaging. Give them “good answers to potential questions” that might come from your audiences.
Tailor all of your communications tools for each audience segment, and be transparent and proactive in your preparation and approach. Audiences need to know you have a plan and that you’re doing your best to prevent and minimize any impact coronavirus might have on them.
You aren’t expected to be a “coronavirus expert”—healthcare thought leaders are doing that important work for you. Your job is to share what you’re doing and direct coronavirus-specific inquiries to the experts.
Most brands are directing all audiences to the WHO, CDC and local county websites to find the most accurate and up-to-date information.
Don’t be caught off guard as new updates are reported. Your leadership and communications team should sit down, discuss various scenarios—from best to worst—and plan for each of them.
Above all else: Communicate facts. Not fear.
Here are a few resources for you to read around how to handle coronavirus messaging and communications from industry trade publications:
How brand managers should address COVID-19 via PR Daily
Coronavirus Planning Resources for Business via Greater Rochester Chamber
Communication Resources via Centers for Disease Control and Prevention