Now, that reality of this quarantine is really kicking in and there is no concrete end in sight, we need to start thinking about things differently.
Nobody (not even Bill Gates) knows what our environment will look like once we come out of this situation. There is so many question marks to almost every single situation in our lives.
- -What will it look like once we ease Social Distancing?
- -Will people gather in larger groups, or will they be afraid to do so?
- -How much money will people be able to spend on activities like going out to eat?
- -What will vacations look like, or will we not even have to luxury to travel without fear?
Just looking at those uncertainties, there are so many industries that will be touched by it. So, what can we do in order to keep ourselves, the economy and daily life going?
One thing that I believe is certain and that is that people will remember how companies acted during these difficult times. If you do the right thing, you will be better off than others.
That’s not to say that every business will be OK, because some companies will simply not be able to endure the financial stress. If you are however a company that puts its people, the community and the well being of others ahead of profit and greed, you will be rewarded later.
Remember the phrase after 9/11
“We will never forget”?
Well, that will be true once we come out of these difficult circumstances.
It is the responsibility of Public Relations and Crisis Management professionals to guide their clients through a crisis. They should encourage companies to do good and to communicate clearly and compassionately. Simply sending out communications that state “We are sorry, blah, blah, blah” is lazy and can be damaging. Now is the time to dig deeper, to come up with solutions that not only help employees but that will preserve brand health in the future.
Let’s take banking as an example. The first communication that I got from my credit card company was not “we are here to help” it was a message to encourage me to use the on-line system or the app. It felt to me that they only cared that I knew how to pay them, which is probably true but there could be other ways to package it. If you want to make sure that your customers remember you in a positive way, give them something tangible like a 30-day grace period for example and then plug your app.
This is why mindful crisis management is so important. Sometimes, communication is counterproductive because it is obviously geared to benefit the company rather than the customers. Even if it was not their intention, perception is reality and it matters how people feel when you communicate with them.
I will remember that message and so will many other customers, I’m sure.