April 7, 2020

How to maintain effective communication and protect the integrity of your brand

As we write this, nearly three-fourths of Americans are affected by stay-at-home orders and continue to adjust to dramatic shifts in their day-to-day lives – both personal and professional. For companies, this also holds true, especially after updated projections have led governors and mayors across the country to issue longer orders to shutter non-essential businesses and limit social contact.

Accepting that this is a longer-term reality, not only are businesses – essential or not – having to adapt as best able, but they are now having to make critical decisions that impact their employees, their customers, and even their solvency.

During such uncertain times, the question becomes: how do you maintain effective communication and protect the integrity of your brand?

Understand the landscape.

The passage of the CARES Act will have a direct impact on a huge number of industries, businesses, and workers, and the Administration has begun rapidly promulgating the rules and requirements necessary to distribute COVID relief as soon as possible.

It’s essential to understand the options afforded to your employees and your industry, how you may be able to access assistance, and the requirements for that program. Cornerstone has a number of resources available to help guide you and your organization as you navigate if and how you can access federal assistance.

Commit to communicating.

Whether your industry received CARES Act assistance or not, your operations and employees will undoubtedly continue to be impacted. As you settle in for the long haul of teleworking or prepare to bring back employees from furlough thanks to federal funding, be as transparent as possible with your employees.

Communicate regularly. Clearly articulate expectations and deadlines. Share information as you have it. Be responsive to feedback. Answer questions. Provide resources. And offer reassurance. One idea to give your employees peace of mind: Allow them to ask questions anonymously through an internal company website or online form. Then, on a regular basis, pick a few questions to answer. Be honest and transparent. The loyalty you’ll receive in return will be tremendous. While no one could have adequately planned for the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s essential to articulate how you are planning now and how those plans continue to adjust.

Be flexible.

A lot of effort goes into planning for and executing events and engagement opportunities, and now, everything from conferences to community events have been canceled. That doesn’t mean you have to forego the opportunity to engage with customers, client, or employees.

With the many technology solutions available, there are several ways you can adjust past plans into tomorrow’s virtual events to achieve similar outcomes and maintain interaction with key audiences.

Be human.

Think creatively about how your company or association can use existing networks and resources to help those in need. Not every company has the expertise to develop vaccines, but each company has a unique opportunity to go above and beyond during these trying times.

Cornerstone’s clients are doing everything from offering empty parking lots as a safe place to sleep to truck drivers maintaining our nation’s food supply chain to helping deliver meals to children who rely on school lunches. With some imaginative thinking and planning, your company, too, can use existing assets to serve the local community and generate goodwill for your brand.

Highlight successes.

As we continue to socially distance, now, more than ever, it’s important to maintain a sense of community at your company and with your customers. No matter how big or small, let both know what you and your company are doing to help each other and help the community while also continuing to accomplish important company work. Everyone is in need of a little positivity right now.

As America and the world continue to grapple with COVID-19, it’s going to take persistent strength and optimism to ensure that your business or organization – with the help of loyal customers and clients – will emerge from this very difficult crisis with renewed resolve and vigor. As always, we’re here to help you better navigate through these unfamiliar times.