Panic, shutdown, confusion and misinformation, how brands can communicate effectively and ethically in this time of crisis.
COVID-19 does not seem to be anywhere close to being contained. In China, we have seen big brands close stores, airlines cancel flights and businesses badly affected.
In Singapore, tourist arrivals are down, locals are only beginning to go out, many events are still canceledµ, and retail affected badly.
There is a lot of anxiety and uncertainty, and this increases stress in the community. Companies can play an important to play in support of this situation, but they need to keep calm and manage communications internally and externally effectively. So how should companies manage their communications during this trying period?
- Business continuity
Employees and other stakeholders will be concerned about the business continuity plans for their companies if the virus were to worsen.
Organizations should have proactive and transparent policies which will protect the livelihoods of their employees. Organizations should include newer additions such as flexible work arrangements and remote working to contain the risks to the workforce and the economy.
- Employee safety
Employee safety should be the highest priority on the list. Organizations should have clear and simple to understand safety guidelines to assure employees that they will provide a safe working environment. Public facing employees need to know that they have support and equipment where necessary to keep them safe.
Constant engagement and monitoring are required to find out the problems early so corrective actions can be taken.
- Customer safety
Safety guidelines and new processes should be designed and incorporated in view of the current situation. Disinfectants or hand-sanitizers should be within reach of touchscreen ordering-kiosks at fast food restaurants as these surfaces can potentially be a medium to spread the virus.
Food handling staff of restaurants may also need heighten level of supervision to sure safety guidelines are followed.
- Employee mental well-being
Opening channels of communications and developing a platform for employee feedback and providing flexibility within the company’s capacity can help remove anxiety of many employees in this stressful situation.
Being transparent and providing timely updates on projects whether it may be delayed or canceled will help reduce anxiety and concerns.
- CSR Communication
A company should not take advantage of the situation if it wishes to engage in support of the community in the fight against the spread of the COVID-19.
Companies should help amplify correct information from the government and WHO and curb fake news from spreading. All communications should be simple, transparent and fact-based.
All companies have a major role & responsibility to play, especially in times of public health challenge. Together with the community and the government, we can do our part to ensure all of their stakeholders, employees and customers have the information they need to feel safe and supported.
There are already several companies providing free food for our medical staff in show of support. It is important to show support to all service personnel during this crisis.
We are all in this together, let us support those in need and come out of this situation as one.