Five Communications Tips for Reopening Business
State and local governments are opening or setting dates for reopening businesses after the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Your company should consider its communications plan to the public and to your employees who may be furloughed. With that in mind, Playbook Public Relations provides these five tips for developing a communication plan before you reopen your business.
1. Create a reopening communication strategy.
You probably have a good idea of what you need to do. You’ve been sitting around waiting for this day for several months. But the first step is to write it all down. List out a timeline of what has to happen first, second, third, so that you can see if there are gaps and anticipate issues before they arise. Create your plan to be an evolving guide that can be modified with the circumstances, but place emphasis on safety. A thorough communication strategy will tell your employees, vendors, and customers how you plan to operate in this new “normal.”
2. Communicate with your staff first.
A critical component of a communications plan is telling your employees to come back to work. Solicit their feedback and get their buy-in into the new policies to keep everyone safe to restore your business to a new normal. Your employees can be your best champions or your worst detractors when it comes to change.
When you recall your employees, give them as much advance notice as possible, which will depend in part on the restrictions mandated by your local government. Your recall communications should set out your company’s plans to keep employees safe when they return. If employees are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks or gloves, communicate who is responsible for providing the equipment and when it should be worn. Include any plans for temperature check policies, sanitation policies, and staff contact tracing policies. All of this information in your communications with your employees shows them that you’ve thought this out, and you’re ready to go to work (and that they should be too!).
3. Communicate with your customers and suppliers.
Like communications to your staff, make your customers and vendors aware of what you’re doing to protect them from the coronavirus. Clearly set out any policy or process changes that will impact their interactions with your company and ask them about changes that they may have in conducting business with your company.
Continue to keep customers up to date with your plans. If nothing else, we are all in a state of “flex” these days, so we have that in common. It’s okay to let your client base know that things are changing daily. Communication shows them transparency and that you’re on top of the situation.
4. Consider the tone of your business communications.
Refrain from sending marketing or promotional material about your company’s products or services. This isn’t the time for that message. It may turn off your customers. Instead, provide them with valuable, informative content, such as guidance on the steps they should take to ready themselves for post-COVID operations.
5. Be helpful.
Ask how your customers how you can help. Everyone has a heightened level of stress about COVID-19 and its impact on them personally. Ask your customers how you can help them during the pandemic. This type of communication shows that you are a partner that’s in the same situation and is available to help.
A text may be the best way to communicate because people typically read text messages as soon as they come in. Email, on the other hand, can be ignored. Make efforts to communicate more frequently than before the crisis and work harder to get your messages through to your intended recipients. A great way to set your business apart is to make phone calls or send handwritten notes.
The most important part of reopening your business is your communication plan.
Contact Playbook Public Relations at (813) 789-7122 for help designing a plan that is customized to your company and your message.