I’m still collating some of the replies and writing answers to questions and concerns I’ve heard from people about this rapidly-changing situation. Please do keep your questions and thoughts coming though.
In the meantime, here are a few snippets of advice for immediate consideration. I believe a lot of companies, and individuals, are going to be remembered for a long time by how they respond to this situation: those who show compassion compared to those who do not. Even if you can’t throw money at the problems, your attitude and approach even to bad news is important.
1. Turn off – or review – scheduled content
If you like to organise your social media or blog post content in advance, at the very least you should go and review it immediately. If you don’t have time, turn it off and come back to it later.
2. Think carefully about what you send out
I don’t need to know about the COVID-19 policy of a hotel I stayed in last year, but I would want to know something if I was booked to stay next month. Send out information that is relevant to the recipient. I’ve seen, for example, an email from a letting agent which didn’t even acknowledge their tenants might be worried about rent payments.
If you visit all of your customers’ premises regularly, yes email them. Put yourself in their shoes – what do they need to hear from you? Instead of a blanket email, consider just updating your website and social media, and putting a link into the signature of your emails.
3. Avoid humour / lightheartedness
Whilst I’m all for a joke, but whatever your view of the situation, people are worried. Some will have loved ones who are critically ill or could even have died. Others are facing huge financial issues. Keep your tone appropriate, serious and sensible.
4. Avoid clickbait / fearmongering
Don’t try to scare people into opening or reading your emails. Stick to facts, not conjecture.
5. Be open and honest
A lot of up-and-coming events are being cancelled, but ones due to take place in two or three months are less clear about what to do. Be honest: it’s fine to say “we don’t know what’s going to happen, but we’re keeping an eye on it”. Keep people up-to-date as and when things change.
The same too with your staff. If you’re facing serious problems because of this, talk to them.
6. Run your business, but don’t take advantage
It’s fine to keep making money, in fact it’s essential. It’s fine to thrive if you’re in an industry that is in demand during this sort of situtation. But don’t price gauge.