Our new blog series, ‘WTF Do We Do Now? Business in the Time of Corona,’ explores the question business leaders all over the world are asking right now: how do we keep our businesses going—and growing—during a crisis? This week, as businesses slowly begin reopening, our CEO Tom Stirling explains the best ways to communicate your reopening plans to clients and customers.
How are you communicating your reopening plans?
Good news: Your business is finally, cautiously, reopening. Bad news: people are scared and hesitant to enter buildings.
This means you have (at least) two immediate tasks:
- Establish a robust plan for reopening.
- Communicate that plan to clients, customers, and staff.
Hopefully, you’re well on your way with Task #1. By leveraging resources like Massachusetts’ reopening guidelines, sector-specific protocols, or those from the World Health Organization and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, your business should be armed with procedures to ensure the safety and well-being of anyone in your building.
But with Task #2, the guidance is less clear. That’s what we’re here to provide: a communication strategy from start to finish. Let’s make sure everyone knows your reopening plans and is just as confident in them as you are.
Here’s a 5-step process for communicating your reopening plans:
1. Establish a consistent message.
There is so much uncertainty and speculation about this virus all over the internet. How do you avoid being a part of it? Consistency.
Create one singular document that communicates your plan. Consider writing a few versions at varying lengths:
- 1-2 sentences
- 1 paragraph
- 2-3 paragraphs
Visuals also go a long way here. Pair your message with images or, even better, create an infographic, like this one from AmTrust financial, that communicates your plans with clean visuals and straightforward messaging.
2. Send the message across all platforms.
Got an established message? Put it out into the world. Make sure it’s on every channel your company uses. Here’s quick cheat-sheet:
- Website: Create a dedicated page on your site about your reopening plans. Already have a page for COVID-19 resources? Add this to the top of it. Then, add a callout on your homepage that directs visitors to your new COVID-19 reopening plans page.
- Email: Send an email to all your subscribers to let them know your plans. Be sure to link to that new page on your website. Take it a step further by embedding your reopening message into your email signature. That way, every email you send is a subtle reminder.
- Social Channels: Post on all your social channels (Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.) with a link to the page on your website. This is a great place for infographics, too.
- Local Listings: People find your business on listings from Google to Yelp to all sorts of local aggregators. Utilizing tools like Yext is a great way to control your message and make sure everyone knows your plans.
3. Train your team to know the plan.
Your employees should be fully informed of your reopening plans. Primarily, of course, this is so that they feel safe coming into work and don’t unwittingly violate the protocols.
But on top of that, they need to be able to communicate the plan to anyone who asks—especially clients. Here’s a few ways to make sure they know:
- Weekly Meetings: Schedule weekly recurring meetings to update your team on any reopening plans or procedures. Keeping them informed ensures their trust and ensures their ability to provide clients with the most up-to-date information.
- Digital Access: Make sure every member of your team has easy access to digital copies of your plan. This is another reason why it’s smart to have a dedicated page on your website—employees can consult it anytime they have questions.
- Office Signs: In-person, make big signs. What better way to ensure that everyone in the office knows the rules than by posting large signs (again, this is where infographics and visuals are your friend) all around the office? Not only does it clarify the rules, it’s a not-so-subtle reminder to your less cautious employees that they need to take this seriously.
Not a big sign maker? Not to worry. The CDC is filled with signs and printable resources like the one below. If you’re looking for more personalized, specific design and messaging, collaborating with a creative partner could be a good solution.
4. Post Ongoing Updates on Social Media
Don’t post your initial reopening plans then go dark. As we noted recently, ongoing communication is essential at this time.
EY’s recent report on pandemic planning also underscored the importance of constant communication with key stakeholders.
What content should you post? Actively document and showcase the steps you’re taking to keep employees and customers safe. Post weekly, even daily, on your social channels with updates and photos. Thank and honor the cleaning services teams sanitizing your building. It shows how much you value them and signals to others how far you’re going to keep everyone safe.
5. Be ready to answer questions.
As with everything else right now, people will have questions. Don’t get caught flat-footed.
Make a list of all the potential questions you anticipate people having. Then write answers for each. Circulate those with your team and make sure they’re comfortable speaking to each point. A scripted response might be helpful, too. You can even repurpose your answers as an FAQ on that dedicated page of your website.
Craft your COVID-19 communication strategy.
Looking for some support to craft your reopening message? I’d be happy to lend some advice or help however I can. Shoot me an email at [email protected] or give me a call 781-369-5154. Let’s see what we can build together.
This is Part 4 of Stirling Brandworks’ ongoing series ‘WTF Do We Do Now? Business in the Time of Corona.’ Check out Part 3 about the best ways to create content for your brand during a crisis. And look out for more observations on the business world as we navigate these unfamiliar times.
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