Start Preparing Your Business Now for Life After COVID-19


March 29, 2020

By Dan Ward, APR, CPRC

The most effective crisis plans are developed long before a crisis hits. The same is true for recovery plans. If you haven’t already thought about life after COVID-19, now is the time to prepare.

Here are 10 things you should consider:

  1. Internal Communication – Never forget that your employees are always your most important audience. Your job as a leader is to confidently reassure them that recovery is on its way and they are critical to your company’s future. You’ve probably already stepped up the frequency and transparency of your communication with your team. Keep it up even as we move into a time of recovery.
  2. Customer Loyalty – If your business has closed or altered operations, don’t stop communicating with your loyalists. Leverage social media groups, loyalty program text messages and emails to stay in touch. Share what you’re doing to help your employees; talk about your plans for recovery; find ways to celebrate them for continued loyalty. Never stop communicating.
  3. Scenario Messaging – There WILL be a recovery, but no one knows what form it will take. Will we all return to work immediately or will it be segmented by geography, age group or risk profile? Will there be a transition for businesses that welcome customers in large groups? Don’t wait for those decisions to be made. Think through how you would adapt to three or four plausible scenarios and how it might impact your communication with internal and external audiences. Document how you would respond.
  4. Clutter – I receive dozens of emails every day with updates about companies adapting to the virus; that number will triple once companies fully reopen. This same clutter will apply to nearly every platform – print, online, broadcast, etc. Turn your creative teams loose now to brainstorm how you will stand out.
  5. Pricing Competition – Many companies have been forced to cut staff. Some workers will return to full-time employment when the economy recovers. Others will transition to contract work as sole proprietors. This means more competition for contracts. It could be time to rethink your pricing strategy. What value-added services can you provide? Your industry’s competitive environment won’t look the same after COVID-19.
  6. Direct Outreach – Ensure you’re communicating often with customers. What about vendors and community and industry leaders, those who hold influence with your prospect audience? Check in on them now and as the recovery begins. Sometimes a simple “how are you doing?” message can go a long way in building authentic connections. Build a list and start making calls; split it up with other members of your management team if the list gets unwieldy.
  7. Media Relations – As soon as you see light at the end of the tunnel, media will have already started searching for stories of recovery. Brainstorm how you can tell customers you’re “open for business” from unique angles. Before reaching out, do your research to better understand what your key media contacts are writing about and ensure your story is a fit for their beat. Your media list should include not only those who typically cover your industry beat, but also those who have been covering COVID-19 stories and will now be looking for stories of recovery.
  8. WFH Transition – I developed this list while walking around my neighborhood and documented it in my living room/office. You’re probably reading this from the comfort of your home office as well. If it took time to adapt to your new work-from-home (WFH) model, it will take time to readjust when the world reopens for business. Don’t expect employees to return full time to their desks right away. Plan for a transition and consider what benefits your company may have seen from WFH policies. A hybrid staffing plan may work better for your company moving forward.
  9. Time Off – You’ve been home, but this has been anything but a vacation. Your team will be more productive with time away from the stress we’ve all been experiencing. Start planning your next vacation now and encourage your employees to do the same.
  10. The Next Crisis – Don’t assume that lightning won’t strike again. If your crisis management plan did not include pandemics or other crises that result in mass business shutdowns, update it now. Apply what you’ve learned and get it on paper while the ideas are still fresh. Conduct a thorough audit of what worked and didn’t work. Research successful approaches by industry peers. Use this time as an opportunity to learn and adapt.

We’re working through these steps now for ourselves and for our clients. If you think we can help your company, too, please reach out.

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