Five lessons from our clients during crisis

by Anna Fozzard

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Every business is being asked to learn quickly at the moment. There’s a fair bit of trial and error going on, but we’ve been impressed by how rapidly our clients are adapting to the evolving situation.
Working with such a broad range of clients has given us plenty of insight into different responses to the crisis. Here are some lessons our clients have learned as they’ve stepped up to the challenge.

Lesson 1 – Hubs help

A dedicated spot on a website for coronavirus-related content works well. We’ve seen clients create portals for sharing insights and expertise, as well as hubs for service information.
Having one go-to space makes it easy for customers and clients to find the information they need quickly. It should also be easy to redistribute the content later when it’s no longer front and centre of our minds.
But there is another lesson to be learned from creating a portal – it needs new content all the time. With the situation changing daily, content can quickly go out of date. So, if you decide to create a portal, you’ll need a strategy for how you’re going to keep it populated and up to date.

Lesson 2 – Changing tack might be the answer

A few of our clients have found they needed to change tack. Content that worked four weeks ago won’t necessarily work now. Some clients are using their content differently by focusing on more relevant subjects. Others are putting projects on hold to focus on more urgent communications.
It’s important to stay agile during a crisis. Changing your approach might be the most appropriate action, but our guidance is to be careful around the tone of voice. Although you may need to flex your tone to be more serious (this is not a time for tongue-in-cheek), consistency is important during times of crisis and your clients will look for the reassurance of familiarity.

Lesson 3 – Share the expertise you know

We have the WHO, government and BBC News for updates on the pandemic. Businesses should only bring their area of expertise to communications.
Lots of our clients have nailed this in their content. They’ve been focusing on answering questions that are currently on their customers’ and clients’ minds. By concentrating on what you do know rather than what you don’t, you’ll be sharing insightful expertise rather than making noise for noise’s sake.

Lesson 4 – Now could be the time for groundwork

While some clients are busier than ever, others are experiencing a quieter spell. And some of those with less on their plates, for the time being, are using this time to plan for the future. They are putting in the groundwork now to make sure they can kickstart projects when business starts to return to normal. Some are thinking about the content they need to launch a new website and others are gathering data for insight pieces.
But those with important projects on the horizon are having to think carefully about their communications strategies. Timing and tone are crucial, and we are working closely with our clients to make sure any future launches happen when the audience is ready for it.

Lesson 5 – Internal comms should not be forgotten

Lots of businesses are putting their energy into keeping trade moving, and understandably so. Yet the need to communicate effectively with employees is paramount.
People may be anxious about their positions. They may be finding it more difficult to stay engaged. They might have questions about the future, which you may not have the answers for. It can be even more difficult to support your team if you are a large company with employees working overseas.
Some clients are ramping up their internal comms at the moment to help their employees adjust to their new ways of working. It’s a wise move – staying in contact and providing support is crucial for keeping staff informed and motivated.

Lesson 6 – You tell us…

Right now, we’re focusing on what we know – clarity, consistency and a considered approach. It is how our strategists, planners and copywriters have tackled crises in the past. If you need any advice on how to give your clients and customers the reassurance they need, just get in touch.
Read our other Coronavirus content here:
Tone of voice in crisis communications – tips to get it right
Communicating in the dark – Crisis comms you can’t plan for
Best B2B Coronavirus content we’ve seen

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