“This is a time of service, not so much a time of sales.”
Dealing with the COVID-19 global crisis is bringing new challenges to how we work as well as how we guide our staff and clients through this crisis. And yet it’s also spurred creativity and thinking outside the norm as we balance it all. On April 6, we were joined by Laura Van Eperen, CEO, Van Eperen; Chris Stevens, Director of Communications, Johns Hopkins Center for a Livable Future/Bloomberg School of Public Health; and Dave Curley, Senior Vice President, Sandy Hillman PR for the first of a series of virtual idea swaps.
Listen in below. And check out the recap for some of the highlights of what we discussed.
Staying in communication with your audience:
- Listen rather than promote.
- Offer solutions to the problems your audience is facing. Communicate ways we can help one another.
- Pay attention to accuracy. Don’t speculate. Always stick to what you know and realize it’s ok to say, “we don’t know yet.”
- Use your best judgement. Be sensitive to what’s happening locally, nationally and globally.
- Be conscious of what you are promoting, when you are promoting, and how it will be perceived.
- Find moments of positivity.
Staff communications – Be true to your culture:
- Give as much leeway to staff as possible. Respect the challenges of juggling working at home while dealing with unique family circumstances such as parents becoming teachers to school-age children, the lack of childcare, spacing issues, etc.
- Continue your regular routine as much as possible. Schedule regular virtual staff meetings, host virtual happy hours, share docs via digital platform, etc. But … be sure not to “over-zoom”! Don’t have a meeting to have a meeting.
- Encourage staff to support local businesses and/or participate in charitable activities when possible.
External and internal communications: How many emails are “too many”?
- Be relevant and meaningful. Ask yourself if this something that will help you or someone you care about in this moment?
- Make sure you have a strong message and a strong subject line.
- Be appropriate. Be careful how you tie your message into this public health crisis.
- Be mindful of timing of message. What is going on at that moment?
- Look at different channels for distribution such as direct mail vs. email.
- Consider segmenting your message to be sure the right message is going out to the right people.
- Use soft messaging.
- Be part of the positive message.
The chat was only the beginning of a long conversation that we’ll be having for weeks and months to come. To do our part, we’ll be holding weekly virtual meetings to gather and address a variety of topics. Have a question or suggestion to share? Send us an email.
Articles of interest:
In case you missed it, here are few comments shared by our participants on what their organizations are doing …
One of my clients is a law enforcement support organization, and we have been able to get the CEO on Baltimore TV talking about how officers in the Baltimore PD being quarantined with coronavirus is impacting public safety. We also have placed Op-Ed pieces on the same topic in The Sun and Chicago Tribune.
My company is deferring premium payments for our policyholders, many of whom are the small businesses which are laying off employees as a result of COVID-19. We are also providing information on the SBA loans to small businesses. Additionally, the company is also providing grants to several non-profit organizations which align with our business and has also increased the amount of money it will match for employees’ matching grants.
My content strategy is changing virtually day to day, sometimes by the hour. I represent a veterinary hospital, so today we’ve been talking about the tiger in the Bronx Zoo that tested positive for coronavirus, and what that means for our household pets. That “tiger” news just broke yesterday afternoon. We didn’t see that one coming!
Right now, at our organization the National Association of Bond Lawyers, we are sending out targeted emails to members who have bars in states who have temporarily changed their CLE requirements. We are focusing the emails based on deadlines for CLE and doing it about a month out, so members are aware of what’s happening and created a webpage listing each state with updates and doing it on a daily basis.