As the COVID-19 threat grows, it can be tough to discern what to do, what sources to trust, and how to respond appropriately as a business leader. In this post, we’ve compiled simple but high-impact guidance to help you clarify next steps, and resources to help you move forward.
1. Only share responsible, verified information.
With pandemic updates changing so quickly, your employees and customers can feel overwhelmed or fall for disinformation. The World Health Organization alerts us to inoculate against the Coronavirus “infodemic” by sharing only verified, reliable info.
To help with that, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) created an infographic to simplify your info-gathering so your communications with clients, partners and employees are rooted in facts, not rumors or falsehoods.
Put simply, PRSA recommends checking on guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and World Health Organization three times each day for the most accurate, up-to-date information.
2. Be transparent, truthful, timely.
The PRSA also notes that transparency and truthfulness are in your best interest, even if you have to admit some gaps, missteps or challenges. “Honesty is fundamental to gaining and maintaining public trust,” its website reads, and transparency builds your credibility in the marketplace.
PRSA experts also recommend you communicate frequently with both customers and employees, establishing a “regular communication path as the authentic and accurate source.”
3. Mind your community.
Paul Argenti, a corporate communications expert writing for the Harvard Business Review, argues that at the very least, your organization should do its best to ensure it doesn’t harm the community. At the same time, this crisis is an opportunity to strengthen relationships with your local community.
Can you provide resources such as cleaning supplies or food to people or nonprofits in need? Can you find a way to ease fears or pressure on employees, customers, or fellow citizens? At a minimum, be clear and honest about what’s happening, versus going radio silent, Argenti cautions. “You can also share ways in which you’re helping your local, national, or global community,” he adds.
4. Create, review or revise your business recovery plan.
Many organizations have a crisis response plan, but not a business continuity one — or vice versa. If you’re experiencing downtime amidst the COVID-19 crisis, use it to create or finetune your response and recovery plans.
As conditions shift in the coming weeks, adapt and improve continuously to minimize losses now, and boost your resilience when the next crisis hits.
5. Shift your sales or customer care to online.
Whether or not you’ve had to shut your doors, it’s wise to shift your sales and customer support online to avoid heavy losses, recommends the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. “If you’re closing your store, find ways to keep your employees earning a paycheck by selling on social media, putting your email list to good use or using a video tool to reach new leads,” they explain.
What’s the next thing you can do to reduce risks to people and profits? The following resources can be helpful. As usual, don’t hesitate to ask for help.
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