March 16, 2020 is not a day many of us will likely forget. Had you been at the SPR office that afternoon, you’d have seen a teary-eyed Chiara very awkwardly carrying a large computer monitor to her car for what would surely only be two weeks of working from home.
As we quickly approach the one year mark of this chaotic time, I can’t help but reflect and think about what next year will look like — I certainly wasn’t expecting to be writing yet another blog from my desk at home. Will we still be wearing masks? Will restaurants still have capacity limits? Will I ever be able to go to a concert again?
“Who knows?” is a natural answer given the constantly evolving state of the pandemic. But as the world has recovered from war, stock market crashes and other pandemics time and time again, it will certainly recover from COVID-19 — and we’ll need to be ready for it when it does.
As we see the light at the end of the tunnel (and, as Mary Ann would say, it’s not another train), take advantage of this transitional-ish time to revisit and, if needed, refresh your company’s identity and communication style — internally and externally. We’ll all have new perspectives, expectations and perhaps operational changes coming out on the other side of the pandemic. You’ll certainly want to communicate them with your stakeholders. Here are a few ways to get started:
Realign Key Messages
Mission and vision statements are typically top of mind when thinking about brand. But what about how you present yourself through your work and to the media?
SPR is a firm believer in key messages. They outline exactly how you want your company to talk about itself and, ideally, be portrayed by others. What are your organization’s key messages? Consider what your goals are now and if they align with what they were in December 2019. Do you still identify with how you sound on paper? Is any of your messaging tone-deaf after the racial justice events that occurred in 2020? How were you tested during this time and what was the outcome?
If you don’t already have concrete key messages, seriously consider laying this foundation down. Of course, SPR is always here to help you with that process.
Reintroduce Your Brand
Now that you have your key messages fresh in your mind, take a look at how you’re publicizing them. Start by looking at your owned media — social media platforms, website, newsletters etc. What’s your tone and engagement level? Have you seen an increase in subscribers and/or visitors? Did you drop off social media all together in the past year?
If you’re going to make changes based on your answers, now’s the time. Have conversations with those managing or contributing to your platforms, work through what new expectations you have and create an execution plan or guide. As we get back into our routines, you have a great opportunity to help your audience get to know you again. What do you want to share with them?
If staying on track is difficult for you and/or your team, consider creating a communications calendar. This living, breathing tool will help keep you organized and on-brand.
Take Note of What Worked
Working from home has not been the complete inconvenience I was absolutely dreading on that day in March. In fact, it’s certainly going to take a lot of effort to adjust back to the office after experiencing the comforts of home.
While I pouted for much of the Stay Home, Stay Safe executive order, I’ve since noticed what works for me in this setting and adjusted accordingly. For example, I’ve started taking notes on my computer rather than writing them out, making them much easier to reference and much harder to lose.
The same applies to your team and its communications efforts. It’s important to understand what tools, strategies and approaches were helpful and which weren’t during a time of crisis. While we won’t always be in a state of sheer panic, evaluate how your team handled working through the pandemic and incorporate the positives into your post-pandemic operations. Don’t just assume that because we used certain tools and followed different protocols during this time that they won’t be useful upon returning to the office.
Cases are dropping, businesses are re-opening and vaccines are being shipped around the world (in many instances, right here through the Ford Airport). While we still have a ways to go, things are looking up — this is what we’ve been waiting, praying and hoping for, right? The time is right to prepare for when that day comes.