Internal Communications Can Be Just as Vital at a Time Like This

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Diane Schwartz, CEO of Ragan Communications, wrote an excellent article yesterday on the Ragan website off of her interview with Steve Cody, founder and CEO of PR and marketing firm Peppercomm. She credits him with building a team culture, steeped in tactical communications that especially helps in these precarious times.
"At his daily '12@12' meetings (12-minute meetings at high noon), employees are encouraged to share humorous or lighthearted updates to help lift the team's collective spirits," she writes. Thus when Cody reaches out now to his employees, it's genuine. "When you're 23- or 24-years-old, [a crisis like this can be] a rude awakening. I encourage them to get together [online], share TV shows, hobbies, book recommendations. Some of them are stuck in 800-square-foot apartments. They know they can raise their hands and ask for help."
As we all work hard to find revenue drivers now and ideas that resonate with our audience, Schwartz's interview reminds us how important internal communications remain, with nearly everyone working remotely. Our much-needed Friday morning team meetings at SIIA are part strategy, part pick-me-ups and part wow-that's-what-you-look-like-again.
"For agency heads like Steve, there's also an acute focus on internal communications as employees are dealing with unprecedented challenges personally and professionally," Schwartz writes. "A survey conducted in early March by Peppercomm and the Institute for Public Relations showed that 81% of communicators say employee comms is the No. 1 focus for them during this crisis."
At the end of the article, Schwartz invites readers who want the latest insights on how to respond to this crisis and plan for a recovery to join Ragan's newly formed Crisis Leadership Board, an interesting idea for any niche these days.
In my email conversation with Money-Media's Dan Fink this week, he also showed concern for how employees are doing at home—business and health-wise.
"Money-Media has been working entirely remotely—roughly 100 staff members—since March 11th. Fortunately, we had done work-from-home drills as part of our contingency planning and we had recently implemented new technologies to facilitate flexible working. As a result, our transition was surprisingly smooth.
"Since the pandemic isn't expected to end anytime soon, we have ordered kits for a number of staff who were having difficulty being efficient in their home work space; things like a mouse, keyboard, monitor, office chair, etc. Most of these items are pretty inexpensive on but go a long way to helping staff be productive and letting people know how much we appreciate their hard work during this crisis."
That concern should only help down the road when people return to the office. And it will also make people better remote workers now and in the new, new normal, whenever and whatever that is.
Schwartz asked Cody to look optimistically to the future and that time when employees do eventually return to the office: "It will be a foreign experience; how do we ease that transition?" he asked. "This idea of re-boarding—not onboarding, but bringing them back—we're working on that now."
I better start gathering my Top 10 Ideas for Re-Boarding now.

Here are some other resources that could be helpful at this time:
There's a webinar posted by Insperity titled How to Weather the Storm - Five Steps to Manage Your Business's Cash Flow Now. "These five steps will help you navigate the best route forward: Get the Right Mindset; Be Vigilant About Cash Flow; Cut "Below the Line" Cost Now; Review "Above the Line" People; Sharpen the Saw.
Of course, tomorrow at 2 pm, SIPA will present a webinar titled How the Coronavirus Stimulus Package Can Benefit Your Business. "The recent trillion dollar stimulus contains provisions designed to keep businesses running. SIIA's webinar, staffed by seasoned and experienced lawyers from Nelson Mullins, will boil down a thousand pages into what you need to know. This is must-see webinar.
The SIPA Discussion Forum has been awash with good conversation around the Paycheck Protection Program. Here's an up-to-date pdf from with FAQs about Paycheck Protection Program Loans.
And here's an article from The New York Times titled FAQ on Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses, Freelancers and More

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Ronn Levine began his career as a reporter for The Washington Post and has won numerous writing and publications awards since. Most recently, he spent 12 years at the Newspaper Association of America covering a variety of topics before joining SIPA in 2009 and SIIA in 2013 as editorial director…