Communicating During Times Of Crisis
Updated: Apr 24
Our guest on today’s Survive and Revive webinar is communications specialist, Andrea Plawutsky. With an abundance of experience in public relations and crisis management within the tourism industry, her advice in today’s session is so worthwhile for businesses of every kind. Without following appropriate communications practices, businesses can lose the ability to harness and sustain positive relationships with their stakeholders. This is especially relevant now, as relationships are pulling us through the unknown and will also be what helps us succeed on the other side.
Here are the main tips from today’s video.
Communication with Customers
· It is so important to communicate different messages at different times, depending on the unfolding situation.
· Be careful about how you come across to your consumers. Communicate information that is vital at this point i.e. not about selling the latest product.
· Use clarity and empathy.
· Use intuition by stepping into your customers’ shoes, this way you can predict how your message will be received. Read through your message critically and have someone else read it – what are you trying to convey? Is it clear? Is it empathetic?
· Your communication should: acknowledge current difficulties, then move on to communicating the key message and finally mention how you will continue to update your publics as things change.
· Once you have acknowledged the issue, don’t let it saturate your communication and only refer to it in smaller ways.
· Your message needs to fit your brand and your customers. Does it fit with what you provide the customer and their current needs?
· The successful brands openly address problems, give a timeline and communicate where the brand stands in relation to issue.
· Relevant and credible information, Andrea suggests using advice from your state government, should be front and centre on your business’s online platforms. Let your clients know your status and how you and your clients will be impacted.
Communication with Staff
· If you are having to let someone go, Andrea advises to have the conversation early in the day and in the week. From a mental health perspective, this allows for the person to receive as much support as possible.
· Share with them why you’re making these decisions, and communicate other potential opportunities.
· Provide a timeline which acts as a sense of certainty. Give time for people to react, as this varies from person to person.
· Be there to support these staff members, have chats with them and check-in regularly.
· This conversation should be over Skype or Zoom and should be one-on-one meetings - no email!
· The JobKeeper allowance is a way for businesses to keep employees connected to the business. This is a way to engage with staff and maintain an allegiance. Remember your staff is your frontline and a huge part of your brand!
Communication with Suppliers
· Be clear.
· Remember you want to maintain and foster these relationships for the long term.
· Let them know what is happening from your perspective.
· Timelines are important for forward thinking and certainty. For example, if you tell your suppliers your business is deferring trade, add in a timeframe of 3 months.
· The frequency of your communication depends on your content and the relationship with your customers.
· Keep in touch on a regular basis but messages must be relevant for the current situation.
· For example, a tour operator with jobs lined up in 6-12 months should only communicate with clients every couple of weeks or months. Whereas a local restaurant may send more frequent messages, such as recipes with a small note reminding customers of takeaway services.
· When using long-lead publication, be mindful about what you have planned and whether it’s still relevant.
To keep updated on how to communicate with your stakeholders throughout this constantly changing journey, you can contact Andrea directly, or follow our line-up of Survive and Revive webinar sessions at https://www.thetravelindustryhub.com/survive-and-revive.