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Eight Tips for Communicating During a Crisis: A checklist for Marketers

Updated: Jul 13, 2023

The “coronacoaster” meme resonates with Carbonites, because like many of our clients, partners and associates, we’re on an emotional rollercoaster ride. In addition to the COVID-19 pandemic and an economic recession, we’re wrestling with racial injustice and social unrest. Almost weekly, there’s a natural disaster looming, including wildfires, derecho, and hurricanes.

We wonder, will we all look back on 2020 like a bad dystopian novel?

As business leaders, we can flip the script. We can use this time to reimagine the future and reinvent how we can offer products, services and solutions that our customers need now and in the future.

Facing multiple crises can actually be a positive turning point for your business. Here’s a checklist of eight of our top tips for using the “next normal” to catapult your business to the next level.

  1. Research remains relevant Since March, consumers and B2B decision-makers have been forced to adjust and make rapid changes. Most organizations and key industries have accelerated their digital transformations. We are now embracing eCommerce, curbside pickup and contactless transactions, as well as remote work and socially-distanced collaborations. What are the new essentials for your customers in order to live and work today? What are their fears, desires and psychological outlooks? Tapping into research can uncover opportunities to adjust your current offerings. General Motors retrofitted an auto plant to build critical-care ventilators. Breweries and distilleries began making hand sanitizers. Your business can pivot, too. Could you find a partner with a complementary product or service to create a bundled offering? For example, Panera Bread began selling milk, bread and eggs directly to consumers. Texas Roadhouse offered a variety of meats at prices comparable to grocery stores. We took this to heart here at Carbon by expanding our internal research capabilities to help clients address current circumstances and challenges, while identifying their customers’ unmet needs. From primary and secondary research to focus groups and cost-effective online surveys, our team can support you in understanding your target audiences’ mindset, purchase motivations and new buying behaviors.

  2. Creative communications for what’s next. Reevaluate your marketing communications strategies and goals. Be flexible and adjust your product roadmaps based on your customers’ new priorities, timeframes and budget constraints.

  3. Rather than cancel in-person meetings, create interactive virtual events. Emphasize easier access, increased convenience, safety and cost-savings of web-based meetings. If appropriate, record the video conference to be used later as an on-demand class.

  4. Convert frequently asked questions and instructions into infographics, checklists, videos and online training. Which is a great way to increase the trust and professionalism with your audience.

  5. Enhance client relationships and customer service by employing help desk tactics. Consider video diagnostics or troubleshooting via phone to make certain clients are experiencing the full benefits of your products and services. Invest in website chat features.

  6. Continue content marketing. Blog articles, podcasts, videos and webinars are excellent vehicles for showcasing thought leadership and expertise.

  7. Social media consumption has increased since the start of the pandemic according to the Harris Poll. IDC found 75 percent of B2B buyers and 84 percent of C-level executives consult social media before making purchasing decisions. Support sales and nurture relationships with customers and prospects by reinforcing your social media strategy.

  8. Harness public relations to build brand awareness. Trade media especially are searching for success stories. They want to showcase positive momentum during tough times. Align your news with trending topics. Demonstrate how your company’s services and/or products support people in achieving their goals.

  9. A crisis communications plan is imperative in our new reality with emergencies and situations unraveling in rapid-fire succession. Alarmingly, the crisis communications plan for many companies is simply a list of emergency contacts. In addition to drafting key messages to respond to various scenarios, organizations must be alert and ready to address dynamic, complex circumstances.

Your response during crises can set you apart if you convey empathy and a willingness to be part of the solution. Need help getting ready for what’s next? We’re here to support you with crisis communications planning, research, marketing and PR strategies! Send an email for a complimentary communications audit.

Sources: How the Coronavirus is Changing U.S. Social Media Usage, eMarketer, 7/29/20 — 37 LinkedIn Social Selling Stats You Should Know, HubSpot, 5/4/2020 —

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