During the Coronavirus outbreak, here a few key communications tips and strategies for business owners to stay in touch with your customers.
I’m Stacie Zinn Roberts with What’s Your Avocado? Marketing and PR. I’m reaching out to you today to talk to you about your crisis communications during the Coronavirus outbreak. This is an absolutely unprecedented event and it’s impacting every type of business and every person in the country and around the world. So what do we do? We need to continue to talk to each other. We hope that we can sustain so that we keep our businesses going. This will be over at some point and we want to also be in business when it is over.
So first of all, we need to be kind to one another because this is very, very stressful. As a business person, it’s really important that you are in communication with your customers. Let them know what’s going on. You need to send your messaging out through e-mail and social media, wherever else you can communicate with your customers, but those are the main ways. And when you do that, make sure that first and foremost you tell your customers that you’re reaching out to them. that this is a communication about the Coronavirus. The best thing to say is that this is a Coronavirus Update. I’ve been watching lots of crisis communications lately. I’m getting e-mails from all different types of industry sectors.
I saw one that was so disingenuous that I have to warn you against doing this. The subject field said, “We are Happy and Healthy!”
That was just terrible. It’s dishonest. It’s unkind and it’s unwise. Just be straightforward and honest with your customers. Make the subject or headline “Coronavirus Update” or. “Coronavirus Update from the CEO”, something to that effect. Be straightforward.
Clarify Hours, Contact Info, Services
Tell your customers if you are open for business. Lots of businesses have been shut down, have to reschedule appointments, or are restaurants offering takeout out. Let your customers know in what capacity you are still operating. If your business is closed and your staff is working from home, let your customers know how to reach you. You may have a voice mail service that you can’t access remotely, for instance. Let people know not to leave you a voicemail. Let them know that the best way to reach you is by email, or phone, or your cell phone. Publish a list of how to get in touch with you and your staff. You’ll also want to explain any new services that you can offer, anything that would be helpful and just be kind.
Let your customers know how you’re feeling about this, that we were all in this together, and whatever expertise you can share, that would be helpful. And actually, that’s why I’m doing this video. I, of course, do crisis communications. I have written these letters and helped my clients. And if you need help with that, terrific. But that’s not why I’m doing this. I think we should all just share what we know in uncertain times and help each other. If you want to reach me, I’m at firstname.lastname@example.org. My voicemail is 360-428-2878. Our website is whatyouravocado.com But honestly, just take care of each other. Talk to your customers. Be a human being. Be kind. And we’ll get through it together. Thanks.
Stacie Zinn Roberts is a nationally recognized, award-winning writer and marketing expert with more than 25 years of experience. She has won more than 40 national awards for her work including the United Nations Environmental Program for retail environmental marketing, as well as from organizations such at the Public Relations Society of America and the Turf & Ornamental Communicators Association. She’s written for industry publications such as Golf Course Management, Sports Turf, Golfdom and PR Daily. She spent eight years as the president and director of marketing for Environmental Turf, where she developed the branding for SeaDwarf Seashore Paspalum, the grass that eventually became the greens grass for the Rio Olympic Golf Course. Stacie served for six years on the Board of Directors of the Florida Turfgrass Association as Chair of the Research & Scholarship Committee where she worked closely with the scientists from the University of Florida’s turfgrass breeding program. Stacie founded What’s Your Avocado? Marketing & Public Relations in 2012.