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Reimagining the future amid COVID-19

How to keep showing up through the pandemic and prepare for the future.
<i>By <strong>Kelsey Green</strong></i>

By Kelsey Green

Account Executive

September 14, 2020

How to keep showing up through the pandemic and prepare for the future.
Let’s check in. 2020 is officially halfway over. Breathe. It’s been a decade of a year.

Throughout this pandemic, we’ve had to adjust. And let’s be real, most of our communication plans probably were sidetracked or thrown out the window to respond to the moment. We’ve adapted, adjusted, become more focused, and maybe even experienced a complete overhaul of our communication plans and behaviors.

That being said, let’s take a minute to regain perspective, take stock and reflect on how to move forward.

Step 1: Identify where you are.

Every crisis has a life cycle. Crises are hardly linear. You may find that you’re ebbing and flowing between stages over time. In communications, we think of crises as having three distinct stages: Instructing, adjusting and internalizing.

Most of us have moved beyond the first stage of instructing, and have moved into the second stage of adjusting in our teams and in our work. The stages of crisis signal two very important things for brands: what communication activities are most critical, and what our customers need most from us.

Stage 1: Instructing – Building resolve.

Your most crucial work is meeting the immediate needs of your employees and customers with clear instruction to ease anxiety and maintain stability. Think helpful, not flashy. Your audiences need safety and procedural information. Show you’re on top of it and demonstrate readiness with operations and infrastructure in place. At the same time, be clear about any interruptions in experience or inconveniences. Reassure your audiences you’ve got it what it takes to weather the storm.

Stage 2: Adjusting – Cultivating resilience.

Once you’ve laid a stable foundation, channel your energy towards recovery. The greatest vehicle for this work is surfacing the stories of strength and fierce resilience around you, whether that’s from your customers, your clients, or your team, to inspire and breathe hope into what may feel like obscure and new territory. Demonstrate togetherness. The banner to hold up in this stage is one of we’re going to get through this, we are stronger for this.

Stage 3: Internalizing – Reimagining the future.

With crisis, often comes change. Businesses will not emerge out of this pandemic the same. So, what does moving forward look like together? This stage presents the opportunity to re-imagine the way you do things. How can you come out of this stronger, more authentic,  more focused, delivering on your brand promises? Commit to being creative and innovative and look for ways to create meaningful, original and even novel experiences for your audiences using the tools and resources you have.

Take a moment to consider: Where are you right now as a brand? Are you in a stage of resolve? Of beginning to dig deep in resilience? Or starting to re-imagine the future?

Once you can tap into where you are now, you can begin to answer: What does that reveal about what your customers need from you now?

Instructing

Resolve

Provide information to encourage calm: help people stay safe and access what they need.

  • Facts, not speculations
  • Clear instruction and communication
  • Consistency is key
Adjusting

Resilience

Evolving the messages from health basics to business recovery.

  • Longer-term planning
  • Stories of resilience
  • Opportunities to connect
Internalizing

Reimagination

Help people make sense of the crisis and its meaning. Find ways to move forward together.

  • A new vision for the future
  • Mourn a sense of loss
  • Build excitement for new possibilities
Re-evaluate your brand.

Brands are under a new kind of scrutiny and are being held to an all-time high standard. The issues we’re facing beg the question: Are you showing up? Is your business a part of finding solutions? Is your brand living up to the promises you’ve made? Give now, earn later. This is a time to be of service and transparent in a way that will resonate with your customers.

Commit to innovation.

Show how you’re making it work. A report from McKinsey found that 46% of consumers are switching brands or engaging with a new retailer – partly due to a failure to help consumers navigate their choices, or at the very least offering the digital tools to help make their lives easier, a third of shoppers reported

prioritize your customer experience.

Make it easier for customers to engage with you. Now’s the time to provide the novel “at-home” experience, meeting people where they are. Innovate the customer experience in a way that makes it convenient and safe to engage with your brand.

step up to shine.

This is a defining moment. Your brand’s visibility (or invisibility), says everything. Think deeply about your response, and more importantly, have the follow through to deliver on your words.

Support your people.

The real proof of your brand trust lies with the team behind the brand. 78% of consumers say that how a company treats its employees is one of the greatest indicators of its trustworthiness. How can you demonstrate your support for your employees to grow trust with your customers?

Give us a call if you’d like to talk through audience engagement strategy as we continue on through the pandemic and prepare for the future.

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