Is the world coming to end? Have we betrayed and pushed mother nature to the brink of tolerance? Have we surpassed our own capabilities to a point where we cannot even control our own actions? How do we set forth to bring order amongst the very people who were placed in positions to drive order amongst us – the masses? Has centuries of evolution, knowledge, research and learning helped us to become more humane in nature or has our arrogance of existence grown with all the specifics mentioned? These are some of the questions that befall upon us in this unprecedented time. The time of Pandemic – a biological crisis that challenges our ability to survive.
As the global economy heads towards a definite turmoil and modern society seeks refuge in the arms of technology and connectivity, the question remains if certain industries and businesses can endure the lashes of this tyrant microbe known as Coronavirus or in more popular terms, COVID-19. Global economic powers such as China have fallen prey to this tiny specimen – not only in terms of higher mortality but also in terms of devastating trade decline. Giants of global economy like the United States of America and Canada are preparing to reel from its aftermath as the Governments announced policies and aid functionalities to prevent the economy from drowning. Hundreds and thousands of lives have been lost in the most developed nations across Europe and Asia. But how prepared is Bangladesh to tackle and survive this global pandemic?
As the most densely populated country in the world heads towards lockdown, a question that we must ask ourselves – what does the future look like for a developing country like Bangladesh? It is inevitable that some businesses and industries will thrive even during this crisis but how will the rest of the businesses and industries cope with this? Clearly, Bangladesh is not prepared to steer the horns of a virus epidemic to attain continuous growth and development. So how do we operate and survive in these challenging times? As a preventive measure to contain the contagion, most multinational organisations and some local large business corporations have already announced that all employees should work from home. But what does that mean for these businesses?
As a communication professional, I have taken this opportunity to conduct my own research, read articles and sketch forth a few steps that should be strictly followed. Here are a few pointers that I believe should be strictly followed during these times of crisis.
Consolidate into singular strategic team approach. The idea is to unify all teams to create one single team to handle communication in times of crisis communication. To ensure business continuity, include relevant individuals from each department to act as an accountable gatekeeper for work related to that respective department. Always be sure to include someone from the leadership team as a part of the crisis communication team. Some factors have been outlined below for timely delivery and decision making.
- As the situation evolves, it is pertinent that the team monitors and takes note of all changes and developments.
- Track all sources of information, short-list and filter out the sources to keep the ones that are relevant for your organisation.
- Become the most relevant and authentic source for information and updates for your team and customers.
- Maintain transparency about your knowledge and information and your sources of knowledge and information with your team and your customers.
- Communicate with simple and easy to understand messages and avoid making complicated message delivery modules.
Inform and keep employees aware about the situation and developments. A default setting that transpires in every organisation is that every employee looks up to their team leader regardless of how he or she might feel towards him or her. Keeping your employees aware of the situation creates clarity regarding the situation and enables employees to feel secure. At the same time, it also allows employees to understand, help convey and clarify any misconception that may be brewing behind the scenes. Please do note, your employees are your most important ambassadors. So, it is essential that your core strategic team is transparent with the rest of the employees.
Here are some important pointers.
- Connect virtually through communication platforms like Whatsapp, Google Hangout, Telegram, Slack or Facebook Workspace Messenger.
- Posts all updates on communication platforms to keep everyone in sync and aligned.
- Be thorough but at the same time keep language simple so every reader can easily understand what you are trying to say and why you are saying it.
- Always keep everyone updated instantly.
- Always communicate – everyday apart from Weekends.
- Do respect your employee’s privacy at all times and cost
Ensure frequent but relevant interaction with your customers. Always give your customers the feeling that in the background you are working for them. Give them a sense that you are constantly adding value to by working behind the scenes, sometimes even during your holidays. And always surprise your customers by exceeding expectations. The following pointers are crucial for any service-oriented business.
- Be proactive in providing your customers or your relevant stakeholders with solutions.
- Show empathy at every point your customer or your relevant stakeholder struggles because of the crisis in hand or any crisis at all.
- Keep providing your customer or your relevant stakeholder with relevant information.
- Provide support to your customers or your relevant stakeholders and waive fees if necessary, to gain trust and a stronger hold on them.
- In case you are the agency, pursue your client to provide support to its customers on the basis of trust, reliability, higher brand value and positive perception instead of any monetary transaction.
- In time of crisis, it is important that you create easier access for your customers or your relevant stakeholders to reach you.
- It is your responsibility to ensure that your customers and your relevant stakeholders feel no inconvenience while availing service.
- In case you are the agency, convince your client to continuously provide information to their public and be transparent at all levels.
- Your clients should have easy access to you and your top management.
Support your community. It is of utmost significance to understand that anything that has an impact on the organisation also has an impact on its surrounding community. So take every opportunity to stand beside your community and help them to build and reinforce relationships and enable scopes to enhance reputation. Also you can take this as an opportunity to build a positive perception of your organisation or brand. So help your society in this time of crisis. As Jostein Gaarder, a renowned author and intellectual, once said “Acting responsibly is not a matter of strengthening our reason but of deepening our feelings for the welfare of others.”
- Scope out opportunities to provide your community with supplies and basic necessities required to fight this on-going epidemic.
- Become a platform of trust and reliability for your community – either through information or through actions.
- Keep communication transparent and keep in touch with the media through your Communication or PR Team.
- Capitalise on every opportunity to build credibility.
Time is of the essence and even more so during these times of a global epidemic that is striking us hard. As professional publicists, it becomes our duty to ensure that we maintain a seamless communication with our customers and our clients. We are going through dark days and possibly even darker days. But if we stay and act together, I am sure the light at the end of the tunnel will shine brightly on all of us.