At the back end of last week, I was listening to a phone-in on BBC Radio Five Live about the word on everyone’s lips – Coronavirus. Callers were asked to share what measures they were taking to prevent the spread of Coronavirus. It is this that prompted me to write this blog and question whether Coronavirus is PR fail waiting to happen?
One of the callers was an accident repair business and the owner spoke about what he was doing to protect his staff and customers. To be honest as a company that employs around twenty people his actions were exemplary. From best practice hygiene for customers visiting the business to looking after his employees should they have to self-isolate or spend prolonged periods away from the business he had it all covered
Get on the front foot
If I have taken anything away from the past few days and that is the need for people to feel reassured in the uncertainty, we find ourselves in. All organisations are under intense scrutiny from small one-person bands to large multi-nationals. This is why it’s important to get on the front foot. You must demonstrate what measures you are taking to protect your employees and customers.
Judging by my inbox a lot of organisations are already doing this which is great. But if you don’t think this applies to you then I would recommend that you think again. It’s also a good opportunity to engage with your customers. If you have employees, then let them know how you’re looking after them. Tell them what procedures are in place to protect them.
Here’s my advice for best practice on avoiding a PR fail:
Create a statement that can be used for both your website and subsequently adapted as an email for customers advising them on what measures you’re taking. When adding to your website I would suggest highlighting the fact on your homepage and having a separate page with a statement. Share this information on social media. In addition, prepare an FAQ (frequently asked questions) document covering off all of the questions customers are likely to ask so that you are able to respond to ongoing enquiries. This is should be an evolving document so update as necessary and share with all customer facing staff.
Formulate a plan on looking after your employees and then create an email to share with them so that they feel considered and valued. Tell them how you will be updating with the should there be any revision to these measures. Just as we want to be updated by the government employees feel just as exposed so perhaps schedule a weekly meeting even if it just takes a few minutes. If you have decided on remote working conditions schedule a regular staff conference call. An internal FAQ document is also advisable and make sure that it’s somewhere that is easily accessible to all staff members. Once again update as necessary.
In a world where we aren’t quite sure what’s coming next, it’s imperative that you keep the lines of communication with staff and customers open. There will be an end to this proverbial storm even if we don’t know when that is. By undertaking best practice you are setting yourself up for better things once we are through this and just as importantly avoiding a PR fail.