If your management team is still working on quantifying the specific impact of coronavirus on your operations and what, exactly, to communicate with your investors, you’re not alone. But even as you are clarifying the go forward public details and messaging points, it’s critical to stay in constant communication with your larger stakeholder community. Doing so is key to helping to assuage fears, inspire hope, and let your audiences know that, despite the massive uncertainty, steps are being taken to address the situation.
Think beyond the press release.
Doing this means looking beyond the cut-and-dry press releases you may traditionally use to share news. Many organizations have already posted letters from their CEOs on the homepage of their websites. Others are going further, embracing mediums ranging from video to social media to stay in touch. These alternative communication vehicles have numerous benefits, including:
- Making messages more accessible to larger stakeholder groups, including employees and the community
- Enabling frequent updates as the situation continues to unfold and evolve rapidly
- Allowing you to humanize your communications and stay visible to your audiences
All of this increases your credibility and reassures stakeholders that your management team is doing everything in its power to handle the situation in the best interest of employees, customers, and investors.
Find a communication approach that works for you.
More and more companies, consumer-facing and otherwise, ‘get real’ about how they’re reaching out to address the ongoing pandemic. Here are some best-in-class examples to consider and help you determine which communication channels might work best for your business during these times:
Even while you are social distancing, you can still conduct a virtual face-to-face with your stakeholders. Actually, being able to see your leaders talk can help instill confidence and go a long way in quelling fears.
McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski has released two separate videos that outline the steps McDonald’s has been proactively taking to ensure the safety of employees and franchisees. In the latest video, Mr. Kempczinski lays out five strategic imperatives the company will employ to emerge from the crisis “even stronger.” The videos are located on McDonald’s newsroom site with a prominent link on the home page of the main site.
Leveraging social media channels allows companies to cast a wide net and provide information about the organization’s response to the virus to those who may not typically check press releases.
For example, CampingWorld took advantage of social media, including Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, to share CEO Marcus Lemonis’ words with as many of the company’s stakeholders and customers as possible. The posts featured a personal letter from the CEO, addressed to customers, explaining the steps the company is taking to ensure public health and continue to meet customers’ needs during the pandemic.
A few other social media examples include:
If you have various groups of stakeholders who need updates, creating a well-organized microsite can help you keep everything in one place and easily direct each audience to the most critical information.
DuPont, a major industrial, launched this microsite to help streamline its communications. The user-friendly site offers information and resources for employees, suppliers, customers, and the public. It includes links to WHO and CDC to support the general public and features a technical bulletin and video related to protective garments, showing how the company is stepping up production of these items to meet the needs of healthcare workers and first responders.
For other examples of the microsite approach, see:
As the world searches for updates and answers and works to adjust to our new reality, your blog will be a powerful tool for sharing information and insights from your organization’s leaders and subject matter experts. Whatever industry you are in, the way you work and interact is changing, and stakeholders will welcome your ideas on how best to adapt and move forward during these times.
This blog post from Adobe describes how the company is helping to facilitate distance learning and provides information on how some of its products can be used, often at no additional cost, to support customers during the crisis.
Here are some other examples of posts from major companies:
Another great way to proactively address your stakeholders’ questions and concerns, especially related to immediate changes in how you will conduct business, is to create and post an online FAQ. Easily updateable, the FAQ is one way share the latest information with everyone as the situation continues to evolve.
Adtalem Global Education, a leading workforce solutions provider that serves students online and at several physical campuses, posted this FAQ on its website to get in front of its stakeholders’ most pressing concerns.
Different stakeholders want information in different ways. A comprehensive approach that combines different types of communications can help ensure that everyone is being reached.
In the face of mass production shutdowns, Ford Motor Company combined a powerful video with a recent press release to help communicate its long history of supporting the country through difficult times and reassure its stakeholders that it will be there for them during the current crisis. The company also created this recent updates page on its corporate site to share Ford’s real-time response to the virus and outline specific steps the company has taken or will take to protect employees and limit the spread of the virus.
Even if you don’t have all the answers, staying connected is key.
By now, everyone knows that the world is changing on a minute-by-minute basis. That means you don’t have to know what’s going to happen tomorrow to reach out today. The beauty of online communications and social media is that you can make updates essentially in real-time. By using this time of social distancing to establish stronger virtual communications with stakeholders, you may find powerful new ways to connect that can benefit your organization long after this crisis is resolved.