How to make the most of COVID-19 hibernation and perfect your communication strategy

communication

Underground Communications founder Karen Porter.

There is no escaping the fact that for many organisations, it will be a struggle to make it to the other side of COVID-19, even with government assistance. And with the government clearly gearing up for further restrictions and voicing the request for Australian business to go into hibernation, there is understandable concern among the business community. 

Whether you find yourself in the middle of a global pandemic, a market downturn or a seasonal lull, it can be tempting to panic and start randomly mass marketing products and services, or worse, pull back on your marketing and communications altogether.

But, when business is quieter than usual, it’s the ideal opportunity to do some strategic thinking, especially in relation to your communications. 

Business processes and goals often get some focus on-the-go out of necessity. But communication is frequently relegated to the too hard basket and done on the fly as a responsive exercise, creating inconsistency, inefficiency and missed opportunity.

Quiet periods mean extra available time.

Here are three exercises that will help to prepare you for the other side, putting you in a great position to recover more quickly or, even better, turn the tide before this period is over.

1. Review and refine your communication strategy

Create a roadmap for your communications

If you don’t have a formal communication strategy, this is no better time to create one. 

Creating a strategy around your communications allows you to be consistent with messaging internally and externally and means that you get more bang for your buck for every piece of content that you create.

It should also lead to a roadmap that will keep you on track and connected to all your stakeholder groups when your days become busy again.

Get everyone on board

This is best done as a team workshop activity. Whether you’re a small business or a large company, bringing people from multiple areas of the organisation will give you insight that you wouldn’t have on your own and highlights groups you may be neglecting it your communication. 

Taking a whole of company approach means that you will devise a strategy and implementation plan that is consistent internally and externally, resulting in greater reach for your message and deeper trust for your brand.

By making it a team exercise, even online from isolation, you are establishing greater transparency across the organisation and providing your people with hope for the future, something that they will need as much as possible during these trying times.

2. Review and implement communication processes 

Assigning for action

In the words of Pablo Picasso: “Our goals can only be reached through a vehicle of a plan, which we must fervently believe, and upon which we must vigorously act. There is no other route to success.”

Without assigning actions to the communication plan you’ve carefully created it’s nothing but an exercise in filling time and making the team feel useful.

Using this period to look at the ways you implement your communication now and assessing whether there are better, more efficient ways to approach it will provide clarity and a path to action.

Channels, audiences, people 

Should a message be split across teams to communicate? Are there new channels, tools and apps that could work better for you? What are your protocols? 

Having a clear idea of the best ways to get your message to your audiences and creating processes around this ensures your team can work to collectively share your story. It gives them confidence in knowing what should be shared and who is responsible.

3. Content, content, content 

Create a content bank

With a clear strategy, implementation plan and simple processes in place, knowing what content to create should be evident. For any communication plan to be effective you need to be consistent, authoritative and regular.

When you have space to think clearly about how you serve the world and what your clients and customers need from you, speaking to that in your content is much easier, especially if you have a clear framework. 

A team effort

By sharing the content-creation load across your team, you will end up with a rich tapestry of information and genuine expertise in your stories, creating a deeper connection with all your stakeholder groups.

It also gives your team permission to think deeply about what and how you do things, potentially providing new insights internally about your work and leading to business improvements. And, it has the added benefit of keeping your team engaged with your purpose and goals at a time when they may feel lost.

If you prefer to have a consistent brand ‘voice’ you can assign a company editor, but having the essence created by an expert will lead to greater authority for your organisation.

Quiet periods are probably the most feared aspect of business, but by being proactive and involving your team in how you can stay connected to your audience and your goals, you’ll be completely prepared when the world comes back out of hibernation.

NOW READ: The essential checklist for how to communicate to customers and colleagues during COVID-19

NOW READ: Should you do PR during a pandemic? Here’s four strategies to help

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