Last week we held two Hot Topics calls for members to discuss how organizations are dealing with the pandemic and its economic impact.  

  1. Rethink your Crisis plan. Even in an organization with deep crisis experience, crisis plans need to contemplate how to cascade a huge amount of constantly changing communications throughout the organization. Establishing or leaning on an Emergency Operations Center centralizes the process and can speed up decision making. Consider dedicating one page on the website, intranet or collaboration tool to handle the minute-by-minute changes without overwhelming local staff.
  2. Be flexible and thorough. If your existing system is not able to scale, strategically divide your efforts. Set up a dedicated inbox for COVID related requests and segment the incoming messages. Think about how you enable your local teams to feel empowered and supported to respond to requests. Keep in mind any challenges you have reaching some audiences - email isn’t always the best channel.
  3. Plan the pivot. There will be two phases – the crisis itself and the eventual recovery. Decide when you expect to make that shift and plan to transition communications accordingly. Scenario planning is also a must – detail what will happen in three days, three weeks and three months. And prepare the company for future decisions by using this time to emphasize the basis for those decisions – the company’s character and values.
  4. Celebrate your heroes. Find ways to reward employees who must go to work and celebrate them on your social channels. Encourage them to post videos about their experience (as possible, of course) and use virtual engagement tools to foster community in addition to collaboration.
  5. Lean in to CommTech. Now isn’t the time to introduce new platforms. But existing ones can be used for listening, to direct information and resources where they’re needed and ensure they’re getting through. Use CommTech to automate follow-ups where information isn’t being consumed and to localize communications so they’re reflective of local needs and conditions. 

Special thanks to our members and Hot Topic call moderators. Bill Wohl at United Rentals and Dominic Keogh at Ricoh in Japan. Additional thanks to the participants who agreed to share their experience and learning including Ian Herbison of Speyside Group; Megan Fletcherat NuFarm; Billie Cole at Rakuten; and Annamarie Sasagawa of Kao.