**With COVID-19 now being declared a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, there’s an increased effort to prevent the spread of the virus. We’re seeing events of all sizes being cancelled, travel bans, people working from home or self-quarantining, redundancies, project delays and cancellations. People are in a state of panic and businesses are starting to feel the impact. **
Communications are more important than ever right now because how well you communicate during this crisis will be crucial to minimising the damage on your business. A lack of information and communication can result in mistrust and uncertainty while regular honest, transparent and informative communication can help to build trust.
Having an effective communications plan in place means you can:
* Communicate the policies and procedures you’ve put in place to help prevent the spread of the virus and protect employees and customers.
* Have clear communication channels set-up to continue to communicate with employees who may need to work remotely.
* Update stakeholders, clients and customers on the practices you’re putting in place to minimise the impact on your ability to deliver your business services and products.
* Continue to update your audiences on the impact of COVID-19 on a regular basis.
* Monitor communications from government, health organisations and the industry to continually update your communications plan.
* Monitor the effectiveness of your communications to different audiences and update your plan.
Let’s look at how two well-known brands are communicating during the Coronavirus crisis.
With travel restrictions getting tougher by the day, the tourism industry is one of the hardest hit.
Airbnb, who provides accommodation and experiences to travelers through a network of hosts, need to manage an influx of cancellations and a high volume of queries whilst having reduced staff. So how have they managed this?
Travelers with Airbnb bookings have already received a proactive email from the Airbnb team communicating how COVID-19 will impact their upcoming trip and the options available to them. In the email they have communicated that due to the exceptionally high volume of calls they will be prioritising those traveling within the next 72 hours.
They have established a Resource Centre to guide people to for support who are not travelling within the next 72 hours. They are also asking people to contact their host directly, and to review their cancellation policy. They have also implemented a social media campaign to further push this messaging out to those who might be impacted. This is essential to ease the pressure on their internal customer service teams.
In addition to this, hosts have received direct communication and further support via an intranet.
Grocery stores are being impacted in a different way. Woolworths is experiencing a high demand for its products, and the supply can’t keep up. Shoppers are turning up to empty shelves and people are going without essential items like toilet paper and bread because of panic buying.
Woolworths have used several communication tools to help introduce messaging around new policies and programs to help ensure there’s enough food and essential items for everyone, particularly the elderly who are most at-risk from the virus.
An email from the CEO was sent to online shoppers which communicated exactly what the company was doing to help customers get access to what they need. It included messaging around:
* Limits to the number of items you can buy for items.
* A program to ensure the elderly have access to essential items.
* Increased cleaning measures to help prevent the spread of the virus.
* Support for their employees.
They have also created a dedicated web page to house their updates in real-time and they have also used in-store signage and PR to help spread the word publicly to customers.
How are you communicating during the Coronavirus crisis? If you need help with your communications plan get in touch.