Navigating A New Normal: Crisis Communications Before, During and After a Pandemic

Read on to learn how to plan for crises, pivot your messaging in the midst of crisis and watch recorded webinar and download our free communications plan template as we discuss how to put it into practice.

Crises are inevitable – every business and organization will experience one (or many) at some point. But let’s be honest – no one expected the whole world to be in crisis mode all at once. A pandemic has infiltrated our lives at every economic and sociological level, and businesses everywhere are being impacted in some way.

How It’s Affecting Us

We’ve yet to find a business that hasn’t been impacted in some way. At Koch Comm, we support more than 60 clients and we’re working with every single one of them in some capacity to develop and carry out crisis communication plans that are unique to their business. Here are some lessons we’ve learned so far: 

  • This situation is ever-changing and strikes fear and uncertainty in us all. 
  • In times like these, effective internal and external communication is more important than ever. 
  • Your customers need reassurance from you. They need to know that you’re in this with them and what steps you’re taking to continue serving them, even if that service is reduced due to these unprecedented circumstances. 
  • Your employees need reassurance as well. Regular communication with them about your plans and next moves is important for maintaining the culture you’ve worked so hard to build. 

What Businesses Are Doing

For some companies, commerce is booming and there’s a struggle to meet supply and demand needs. The crisis lies in how to overcome supply deficiencies and how to communicate wait times and changes in the supply chain. For others, storefronts and gathering places are closing and there’s a flurry of last-ditch efforts to reach customers in ways that have never been tried before.  

Companies are also making huge shifts in day-to-day operations, ranging from the initiation of social distancing protocols to a complete shift in their environments as they turn to remote work options. Without effective communication methods to the right channels and the right audiences, their ideas and operations shifts will struggle to be successful.  

Up to this point, everyone has been forced to react to things they couldn’t have foreseen and those that went into this pandemic without a crisis communication plan in place are still trying to figure out what to say – and how to say it. It’s time to start planning.

The Pandemic Intervals Framework

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers a Pandemic Intervals Framework that outlines the six intervals we can expect as we ride the wave of the COVID-19 outbreak –we’re in the fourth interval now. That means that despite all of the adaptability, resilience and creative communication efforts your company has put forth up until now – this unfortunately, is not over. You’ll continue to have to make tough decisions. Many companies will need to plan for communicating a reduction in workforce due to revenue declines, while others will scramble to continue to meet increasing demands. Everyone is looking to over-communicate with their customers, while also fighting to be creatively intentional and planning for life after the pandemic.  

At Koch Comm, we’re committed to communicating with our clients on a regular basis to ensure we remain aligned with their objectives. We view our client relationships as much more than transactional, and we’re reminded during times like this the importance of having – and being – a trusted partner. 

Our webinar features Kym Koch Thompson, principal at Koch Comm, Danielle Hoeltzel, director of organizational development at Express Employment Professionals, Dan Mahoney, vice president of broadcasting and corporate communications at Oklahoma City Thunder and Brian Alford, vice president of communications and public affairs at OG&E. They discuss the six intervals of the pandemic and will equip you with tools necessary to activate your crisis communications plan. 

Watch recorded webinar and download our free communications plan template. 

We can – and will – get through this together.