As COVID-19 cases continue to fluctuate throughout the United States, business leaders are grappling with next steps: should I let my employees continue to work from home, or should we return to the office? What would a hybrid work schedule look like? V2 is one such organization hosting this discussion, surveying employees to determine concerns and understand questions they have about returning to the office.
As these important conversations evolve and organizations navigate what “work” looks like in the coming months, it’s important for business–as–close–to–usual to continue, with leaders keeping all lines of communication open so there are no stalls to workflow. Here are the ways in which business leaders can manage communications between their employees, customers and the media to keep business moving forward.
Improve engagement with employees
As COVID-19 spread and workforces became scattered to different parts of the world, internal communications became a critical focal point to ensure that business could move forward. At a time when information is constantly changing, employees expect information, social connection and emotional support from their employer. Even if business leaders don’t have the right answer, simply hearing from leadership can help put employees’ concerns at ease and help them feel connected to their company despite the distance.
To best communicate with employees, leaders should align messages with business priorities and ensure they are clearly communicated to key audiences. With so many employees using video conferencing tools, business leaders may consider addressing any important updates via Zoom, Microsoft Teams or the like to deliver this information while providing that social connection employees crave while remote. Business leaders may consider partnering with communications professionals who can provide communication strategy and execution guidance to company management, HR and legal so that they are addressing fellow staff as effectively and engagingly as possible.
Rethink communications with customers and prospects
COVID-19 has shown that even the best-laid plans can be upended in a matter of days. With events going digital and demos taking place over zoom, organizations have had to quickly pivot how they engage audiences to gain new leads, nurture prospects and keep customers happy. However, without the tried-and-true techniques available for engaging audiences, companies need to get creative when communicating to and with customers. To position themselves as a source of guidance capable of address customers and prospects’ evolving needs during this tumultuous time, leaders can adjust their original communications strategies in the following ways:
- Shift conference sponsorships to podcasts, video series or virtual roundtables, tapping customers to be brand advocates, or engage influencers as guest speakers to impart expertise and add credibility
- Increase executive touchpoints by sharing well-timed and thoughtful emails or video messages from senior leaders to make customers and prospects feel valued and supported
- Deliver more thought leadership content (versus product marketing campaigns) to help educate customers and prospects, especially in industries where buying cycles have slowed
To ensure the transition to video and other digital formats doesn’t get in the way of delivering results, leaders should consider virtual presentation training. Custom sessions that prepare executives for video interviews provide them with the techniques needed to present well, build rapport and motivate audiences, even remotely.
Prepare for media opportunities
At the start of the pandemic, it seemed as though every reporter switched beats to cover COVID-19. Even today, COVID-19 is still receiving a majority of press coverage at all levels. However, instead of focusing on the negative impacts, the news cycle is starting to shift toward what’s coming next and “the new normal.”
While what journalists are covering seems to constantly be changing, there are some tactics companies can keep in mind so that they’re prepared to contribute something newsworthy:
- Align angles to the issues of the day. Companies should research the journalists they want to engage to ensure the stories they want to tell align with those journalists’ beats and article formats.
- Conduct remote interviews via video. In today’s climate, facetime—even via ZOOM—can go a long way in establishing connections.
- Subscribe to the outlets that matter most to the company’s industry. Gaining full access to these publications not only allows companies to follow all coverage but supports the publications to continue closely covering the space.
Partnering with an established communications firm can help businesses draw out differentiated, relevant narratives from their work and apply them through the lens of the current media and market landscape. As a result, companies will see compelling story angles that are mindful of the current situation without losing sight of the company’s value prop.
Navigating the COVID-19 landscape can feel challenging and overwhelming, but by prioritizing communication with employees, customers and prospects and the media, companies will find that they’re equipped to overcome the hurdles in their way. To learn how V2 can help, take a look at our report, Moving You Forward: Engaging Key Audiences Amid Disruption.