If you’re like me, your email is filling up with messages from businesses and organizations. The airlines have been the most active.
Many seem heartfelt and provide good information, while others seem to be prescheduled or insensitive to the situation. Some don’t even mention the current situation. One I received from a local gym was still talking about a March Madness promotion and featured basketballs. (Sorry, all canceled a week ago.) I received this email the same day the president suggested people avoid being too close. Yet the email offered classes, massages and group activities. Later that same day, the gym sent out a virus-related email — I’m sure people complained.
When I was in TV, the consultants always said, “You can’t gain any viewers during election night, but you sure can lose viewers.” I believe the same thinking applies to disasters like floods and pandemics (unfortunately, I’ve now been through both). You may not be able to gain any new clients, stakeholders or donors, but you can sure lose a few because of poor messaging or insensitivity to the situation.
Communication is the key when faced with challenges. You need to communicate with outside stakeholders, but also with your employees. We suggest a few techniques in these troubled times:
- Podcasts can be produced and posted without group activities.
- Facebook Live can still be used for events, meetings and announcements. We did a multi-camera shoot for a fundraising event that had 150 viewers.
- Video can be a great way to release information, send out notices and talk to your customers.
- Micro-websites can be put up quickly just to deal with the virus, so you don’t change your entire website.
- Weekly or biweekly one-page newsletters could be mailed to customers, stakeholders or donors as long as they contain pertinent information.
- Public service-styled TV commercials (viewership is way up) that talk directly to the audience and acknowledge that you know what is going on and you’re still working hard.
Messaging is critical. Pay attention to everything that is going out to the public, but don’t overthink it and delay too long. Late communications may be worse than no communications — unless you are thinking about running anything to do with canceled events.