Under: Crisis Communications
I've heard from many different entities during the COVID-19 crisis—theaters I've had subscriptions with, sports teams I order from, publications like The Washington Post and The New Yorker. (I'm not a big Amazon person, although I guess Mr. Bezos does own the Post.) And you really do get a sense of who they are from their outreach.
When I emailed The Washington Ballet about my subscription—what remained this season and renewing the next—Wil called me about two seconds later to discuss it. (Another good lesson—I was impressed!) He was honest and straightforward, and it really made me feel good about continuing my subscription. When I later reminded him that he forgot my free Nutcracker tickets, he was so apologetic that I then felt bad.
Another division here held a webinar last week on Crisis Communications, and a colleague at another association, Theresa Witham, managing editor/publisher at CUES, did a great job covering it for us. The quo ...
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 intervie ...
I just listened to an excellent webinar from a company called MCI USA titled "COVID-19: Communicate Empathically, Plan Strategically," with Brittany Shoul speaking from a sales and partnerships viewpoint, and Rachel Dillion on member services.
It was fairly basic but in a good way—meaning that they clearly laid out positive strategies for working with your audiences at this special time. Here are some key takeaways.
Focus on the gap methodology. The plans that we all put in place two weeks ago aren't the plans today. And who knows what the future will bring. Focus on the middle. Our key stakeholders are experiencing a level of uncertainty that we're all experiencing. There's a place now between the current state (unarguably not great) and the future state. Make the most of the time now.
Have conversations with your customers. Shoul and Dillon said that the natural inclination at this time might be to withdraw, but ...
In the novel Emma by Jane Austen—and in the film that's out now—Harriet Smith shows Emma a letter of proposal from Mr. Martin, a farmer. Not realizing at first that Mr. Knightley helped him with the letter, Emma is quite "surprized" by the strength and style it commands.
"There were not merely no grammatical errors, but as a composition it would not have disgraced a gentleman; the language, though plain, was strong and unaffected, and the sentiments it conveyed very much to the credit of the writer. It was short, but expressed good sense..." (In the movie, we even see how short and neat the letter is.)
I bring this up because in an article on CNN last week, Todd Rogers, a professor of public policy at Harvard University and chief scientist at EveryDay Labs, wrote that there is a problem with the way organizations, schools and airlines communicate in crisis times like this. Above all, they write too long.
"...if t ...