Communicating effectively in times of uncertainty

Sometimes, something happens that changes your business. Sometimes, the whole world changes.

The best approach to ensuring your serving the needs of your customers, employees, and other key stakeholders is to create a tiered communications plan and set it in motion.

Tier 1: Share the details.

This is the non-negotiable stuff. Your service details, key updates, and facts.

  1. First, in all communications, you need to tell everyone what is going on (unless it’s a global pandemic, then you can worry more about step 2).
  2. Next, you need to tell your employees what you’re doing to resolve the situation and protect them and their jobs. If possible, do this in person, face-to-face via video chat, or on a phone call. Don’t lead with an email but certainly follow up with one.
  3. Finally, you need to tell your clients how to work with you in the current situation. This should be posted on your website and social media and with an email to your (opted-in) email list.

Tier 1 communications should be updated as often as things change. Transparency, clarity, and honesty are key.

Tier 2: Connect with your VIPs.

For customers and stakeholders you have a direct relationship, this is the heart-to-heart.

This is your chance to reinforce community, check in with their needs, or just say thank you for their support. These can be in-person (when we’re not social distancing), over video or phone calls, or through emails. The message will drive the medium.

Tier 3: Pause the un-related.

Sometimes, the best communications start with what you don’t share.

This means ensuring everything you send out stays on message.

  • Talk to your marketing team to see what is currently out in the world and stop anything that doesn’t make sense in the current situation.
  • Pause all previously scheduled social media posts.
  • Make sure everything you send out moving forward has a real purpose. Avoid random check ins, thanks-for-buying-years-ago, and we’ve-missed-you style messages.
  • Consider pivoting your marketing and paid advertising to messages targeted toward the current situation. By repositioning to reassure people or solve new pain points, you can avoid losing momentum after the crisis has passed and maybe even gain additional business.

In challenging times, as the kids say, it’s important to “read the room.”

The biggest takeaways for communicating through a crisis is to be helpful, informative, constructively entertaining or reassuring, relevant, and compassionate.