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How to communicate during these uncertain times

Thursday, March 19 2020

How to communicate during these uncertain times

With the ongoing pandemic, we continue to venture further and further into unchartered territory. The changes we are seeing in the world are fluid and happening on an hourly basis. 

At Beattie Tartan, we continue to pay close attention to ongoing developments surrounding COVID-19. For our clients and anyone needing assistance, we’ve got your back. 

One of the most important things you can do as a business at this time is to communicate. Communicate with your customers, communicate with your staff, and communicate with your internal and external stakeholders. In the following blog, we speak with Deirdre Campbell, Managing Director of Beattie Tartan Canada, about ways to engage with the media and customers via social media during these unprecedented times.

Proactive Media Outreach and Hosting

Based on recommendations from the Canadian federal government to limit all non-essential travel and the closing of borders to international tourists and all non-essential visitors, it just makes sense that all near-future media visits and any initiatives which ‘sell’ vs “tell” be postponed. Now is the time to communicate information that is useful for consumers. 

“It's times like this we really appreciate our trusted media sources and need to respect that like consumers, they are not interested in being pitched stories that have no relevance right now. But this doesn’t mean we remain silent, it just means we have to pivot with our stories and content,” said Campbell. “For media and for consumers, useful information includes tips on how our clients are managing through COVID-19, how are they keeping employees and customers engaged, and what are they doing to stay afloat?  We are currently coaching client spokespeople to feel comfortable telling these very real, raw stories that reinforce the need to share and come together in times of crisis.”

Additionally, Campbell says this is a great time for business leaders to positively position themselves and key team members as opinion leaders within their industry.

“COVID-19 is top-of-mind right now and is leaving people with a lot of questions about what this means for individuals, and how businesses, communities and the economy are going to be affected. This is an opportunity for companies to position themselves as leaders in their industry and offer insight into their community,” said Campbell.

Social Media and Marketing Efforts

As people increasingly look to social media it will continue to grow as an influential channel in the weeks and months to come. Campbell suggests making minor tweaks to your current strategy in order to remain valuable to your wider audience.

“Now is certainly not the time to be pushing promotions for products and services; however, you can still create value by highlighting things like alternatives to going out, home wellness and working tips, favourite recipes, favourite playlists, and share stories of heroes on your team or in your community following the caremongering trend,” said Campbell. “Look for ways to put smiles on people's faces, facilitate live chats and remind us all of our shared humanity. Now is the time to build that invaluable share of heart that builds enduring brands.”

Here are some tips you can use with your own social media and marketing programs:

Since physical promotions or services might be off of the table, we suggest highlighting ways to stay connected: Youtube, Facebook or Instagram Live videos are great ways to create conversations. 

  1. Share alternatives to going out: favourite recipes from the restaurant, favourite music playlists or new books/podcasts. Get creative with ways you can highlight the experiences that your business offers think "5 ways to turn your bathroom into a spa" or "Our favourite at-home workouts with no weights.”
  2. Any engagement touch-point can enhance your business' online visibility. Make sure to monitor all comments and messages, and respond to everything (even if it's just a thank you). Make your audience feel heard. Keep the lines of communication open  – this will support and grow your following for the future. 
  3. Consider offering credit and/or gift certificates that can be redeemable at a later date vs. refunds. The key is not to put an overly restrictive time limit on redemption as small businesses may not be able to handle demand if all are redeemable within a calendar year, for example.
  4. Share stories of the heroes on your team or in your community. This is a great time to put the focus on the unsung heroes that are keeping us safe, healthy, happy and loved every day, not just in these trying times.
  5. Being vulnerable can cultivate trust. We all know what is happening in the world, so there is no point in avoiding it. Promote solutions – don't get hung up on the problems or be afraid to ask for help. Sometimes the greatest gift you can give to someone is the opportunity to help you find a solution.  

The Beattie Tartan team sees themselves as ‘helpers’ -  We will continue to help and support our community as the situation develops – whether it be from an internal and external communications perspective, getting stories out to the media, providing advice or being a sounding (and venting) board.

Please know we’re all in at this time and no ask is too much.