It has been an unsettling week for businesses in the U.S. – from the stock market rollercoaster to escalating infection rates and unexpected school shutdowns. In addition to wrestling with what to do to navigate through these unprecedented and uncertain times, businesses must also consider how to effectively communicate their plans to all key stakeholders.
Our blog “Crisis: CEOs should ask this one question of their teams – “What’s our plan for that?” underscored the critical role crisis planning plays in effectively mobilizing a team and communicating your game plan. In it, we also innumerate the ways to develop one. But, having been part of many crises communications and management scenarios, I can’t imagine too many B2B organizations had developed playbooks to manage the scale, uncertainty and complexity of what we face today with COVID-19.
V2 has helped several clients develop content and communication strategies for COVID-19. These include internal employee communications around current work policies, customer and partner notifications and FAQs to arm sales and service representatives who are on the front lines with customers answering questions about the business’ response to the pandemic.
Here are a few key takeaways and best practices that we hope will help you as you develop your response plans.
- Create a COVID-19 response team. The team should include functional leaders from across the business to ensure all key stakeholders are represented and business continuity planning is considered (e.g., HR, legal, facilities, IT, communications and customer support).
- Identify key audiences for communications mapping. Understand who needs to know what, when. This will help prioritize the frequency, tone and format of communications to various groups. For example, employees in risk areas may require regular updates and would benefit from all-hands calls with managers to augment company-wide communications.
- Communications and key message development should follow response team decisions. This is a rapidly moving situation and decisions are likely to change or evolve within days if not hours. It is critical for the communications lead to be part of the discussions so that key messages can be quickly developed and shared.
- Keep the lines of communication open. Be clear about the fact that the landscape is shifting rapidly and make sure that you provide regular updates to all key constituents as they break.
Wishing everyone well as we navigate through this together.