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Planning for The Next Phase in Your Crisis Communication Strategy

7 minute read

After WHO announced COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic, there are two questions everyone's asking:

When will life get back to normal? How will life be after governments decide to lift the lockdown?

Humanity is slowly but surely preparing for an unprecedented time: the Post-Coronavirus era. 

In this reshaped world, various industries are expected to operate remotely with success

Businesses who already have well-built digital solutions and internal communications tools are better positioned for this challenge, while those who are still afloat must adopt these kinds of solutions to survive long-term.

The establishment of the "next normal" in business is inevitable yet uncharted and will be introduced by those who have successfully navigated this pandemic.

In this blog post, we've gathered the biggest lessons from the Coronavirus pandemic on business, plus tips on how to plan for the next phase in your crisis communication strategy.

What we've learned so far

With every industry and economy profoundly affected, the amount of inevitable change to think through can be discouraging. 

At the same time, learning from trustworthy sources is essential to set up for what's next:

Here are the key findings from a 10-country study conducted by Edelman

  • 62% of employees trust their employers to respond effectively and responsively to the Coronavirus outbreak.
  • Employers are expected to update information regularly on COVID-19, with 63% asking for daily updates, and 20% wanting communications several times a day.
  • Business is counted upon 73% to adapt its HR policies to give paid sick leave or prevent at-risk employees from coming to work, among other things.

Crisis Communications Strategy

Your crisis comms strategy today shapes your future

Before the vital part of the crisis has been navigated, companies will have to pay attention to what’s changing and learn how to adapt their crisis communication strategy accordingly. Ad hoc, reactive responses must be replaced by fast reflexes and long-term, proactive crisis management.

The current predictions about what the “next normal” will look like are nothing more than assumptions and wild guesses. However, companies could benefit from actual data to reflect on their plans by adopting safe internal communication models that accommodate this extreme level of uncertainty.

Let’s take a look into some of that data:

By the end of 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be millennials:

  • The vast majority of millennials prefer instant and mobile communication
  • They view emails as less urgent, and despite a rising trend of checking email on nights and weekends, emails aren’t expected to have the same level of immediacy as text messages.
  • 44% of millennials say their company’s communications are outdated.

In short, the workforce of tomorrow will engage with mobile-first internal communication solutions with constant access to up-to-date information on demand.

5 steps to a successful crisis comms strategy for the recovery phase

1. Get a realistic view of your current situation

What does your company’s crisis communications strategy look like at the moment? Developing a clear overview that will be used as an anchor to assess what has been changed in the future is essential. Your strategy is tied to areas such as your financial situation, your ongoing projects, your internal communication tools, and your employees’ status. The goal of this exercise is to assess what still seems about right, what’s not working anymore, and what’s in the middle. For the latter, choose initiatives based on how impactful they will be for the business long-term. 

If you don’t have a detailed crisis communication plan in place, start by creating one.

crisis-communication-CTA

2. Write down possible case scenarios and solutions for the future


 According to McKinsey’s global COVID-19 scenarios for the economic impact of the crisis:

‘Developing scenarios brings immediate benefits. It allows you to bound uncertainty into manageable and measurable boxes, reducing confusion, and sorting out what is truly unknown and what matters. You can identify, with confidence, the no-regret moves with which you should promptly proceed while creating a clear structure to use when working through options to handle a range of possible outcomes.’

Source: https://www.mckinsey.com/

3. Establish key activities based on your communication goals

Having established your starting point and developed possible scenarios means that you're ready to start mapping out the details of your strategy. Answering the following questions will help you create a checklist with necessary communication steps:

  • How can our message be delivered more effectively? What campaigns and key activities do we need to continue or stop?
  • What is our communication budget? Does it need to be re-evaluated for different scenarios?
  • What organizational issues or essential stakeholders have been forgotten?

4. Craft your messaging and determine time, content, and distribution:

Your messaging must reflect your business’ core values but also support the perspective and feelings of your employees in times when they're looking for direction and guidance. 

Some top tips for successful messaging for your crisis communication strategy:

  • Messaging should be fast, accurate, clear, consistent, and authentic.
  • Though speed of communication is essential to maintain the narrative, the accuracy of messaging is key.
  • Customize your messaging for individual segments and personas within your organization.
  • The only wrong time to communicate is when you’ve waited too long.
  • Replace ‘positive spins’ with honesty.
     
  • Use a personal and authentic tone
  • Benefit from emergent technologies such as video conferencing, and mobile-first internal communications apps.
  • Reach your employees whenever they are.

5. Gather learnings from employee data and stories

Collect meaningful data to help your team make informed decisions and determine who your employees are today. Define what success looks like and take actions and strategic moves that are robust across different scenarios. 

Conclusion 

Your crisis communications strategy today is affecting your preparedness for the next phase of this crisis (or a new breakout) both in terms of workforce traits and crises-dependent socioeconomic factors.

Creating and maintaining a centralized internal information hub will ensure that you protect and empower your people, serve your customers' core needs, and establish business continuity.

Interested in boosting employee productivity and engagement in times of crisis?

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Rita is a Product and Marketing Copywriter at Speakap. She has a proven track record of success driving results for SaaS companies and continually enriches our content channels with her wide range of expertise.

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