Coronavirus and Communications: We’re Here to Help
March 16, 2020
The current COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented disruption to modern life. Worldwide, society, business and the things many take for granted (conferences, face-to-face meetings, food service, travel, schooling) have been upended. Widespread social distancing and remote work has challenged all of us to pause and evaluate how we communicate, operate and manage projects in the workplace. It’s also caused many companies to refocus their PR, marketing and communications plans.
For many companies, it’s fair to wonder what role they should play in the national conversation. It’s a question many of our clients have asked over the last month. And while there’s no rule book on how to deal with this crisis, Barokas is committed to helping our clients navigate communications best practices in this challenging and uncertain time. Key tips to keep top of mind include:
- Be clear, consistent and genuine on all fronts.
- Remember we are all in this together—it is not the time for opportunistic or self-serving aims.
- Consider all stakeholders (partners, employees, candidates, customers, media)—update them frequently and in a timely manner.
- Stick to the facts and point your audience to official resources (your local government communications or the CDC) for more information.
- Get a gut check on every piece of communication before it is shared, to ensure it is factual, honest, necessary and useful.
Many of our clients are offering their respective expertise to media as a resource during ongoing COVID-19 coverage, and leveraging their platforms to educate the public and their employees. As an example, our client 98point6 is helping reduce the spread of COVID-19 by providing virtual, text-based primary care, and its Chief Medical Officer conducted a Facebook Live to answer patient questions. Another client, FlowPlay, talked about how people are turning to online social games to stay connected during social distancing and its early efforts to support remote work in the Seattle Times. And mobile shopping app Ibotta rallied Colorado CEOs to come together for a joint fight against COVID-19.
We are here to help companies navigate through this uncertainty. Over the last two weeks, our teams have jumped in to support clients with activities that include:
- Shifting outreach efforts from media to customers to foster new relationships, testimonials and case study materials.
- Creating company-wide messaging and response for how the pandemic impacts the business.
- Helping clients arrange introductory or relationship building interviews with beat reporters who are currently stuck with little news to cover (such as reporters solely focused on entertainment or sports).
- Internal communications campaigns that provide employees with updates on company policies, peace of mind, information about additional resources, training on remote-work tools and tips for combatting cabin fever when working from home.
- Identifying and conducting outreach around uplifting and encouraging stories. An example include this Forbes story covering how our client 98point6 is helping reduce the spread of coronavirus by providing virtual, text-based primary care.
- Adjusting pre-planned launches and campaigns to better align with the current news landscape.
- Repurposing content and presentations slated for conferences that have been cancelled or postponed, so they can be leveraged in new ways that help drive business results.
- Reallocating hours normally spent on media relations and launches to invest time in other high value (but often de-prioritized) activities like media training, messaging refreshes, web site audits and long-term planning.
Stay well, stay safe, stay sane, stay home. If your company needs help with any communications needs in light of the current pandemic, let us know. We’d love to meet you over Zoom.
-Barokas Communications Team