The Dos and Don'ts of PR during Covid-19
Some top tips from Sapience Communications
There are few sectors that have escaped the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in recent weeks. Lockdowns have forced closures and declines in sales, while widespread remote working has had a major impact on how efficiently many businesses can operate.
In the current environment, where uncertainty and slashing overheads seem to be the main focus, it’s tempting to view communications and marketing as non-essential.
You would be mistaken to do so.
Looking after your organisation’s reputation is not a job that can ever be put on hold, but now more than ever, it’s important to ensure consistency and proactivity in your communication with target audiences. Your clients, customers, partners and other stakeholders will be looking to you for guidance, transparency and support during this period - that means communicating is far from non-essential, it’s vital.
Of course, during a time of uncertainty, it’s critical that communication is carried out appropriately and considerately. So, what are the Dos and Don’ts of communicating during a crisis?
Be proactive – don’t wait to be asked how you’re responding to COVID-19 by your clients or stakeholders. Be upfront and show your key audiences you are responsive and alert. Keep them in the loop.
Leverage online tools – with less face-to-face engagement, stay active on digital channels being increasingly used by your target audiences, such as social media and other online platforms.
Look to the future – demonstrate your confidence in looking beyond the pandemic and your desire to work with your partners for the long term. Show you have a plan to move forward and future ambitions.
Panic – it’s important not to adopt an entirely reactive approach to comms during a crisis. Stay calm and carefully plan and consider what your audience might need to know, how they should be engaged and when.
Lie or hide the facts – during a period of uncertainty, your clients and partners need transparency even when that means delivering difficult news. Be upfront in how your organisation plans to handle problems or concerns.
Capitalise on the crisis – now is the time to show support to your network of stakeholders and to build resilient relationships. It’s not the time to profit off uncertainty by selling quick-fixes that ultimately weaken longer term trust.
The principles of successful communication during a crisis are really not that dissimilar to those during normal circumstances. The only difference? You can afford to overlook them even less during COVID-19.