AAXO Chairperson, Projeni Pather talks to Madeline Roscher, the CEO at PR Worx on how to handle Crisis Communication for businesses
EFFECTIVE CORPORATE MESSAGING CAN SAVE LIVES – AND BUSINESSES
As parts of the country prepare to enter into level four of the government COVID-19 alert matrix, some industries are readying themselves to open up and start trading again. While this is a welcome development in getting South Africa back on its economical feet, corporates must still place the welfare of their staff, customers and country at the top of their business agendas if they wish to avoid a relapse into complete national lockdown again. To balance satisfying their business needs and the safety of their stakeholders, industry leaders must leverage innovative communication methods, says Madelain Roscher, CEO of PR Worx.
“It goes without saying that during a crisis such as the pandemic South Africa and the world are currently facing; clear, consistent and concise communications can be an effective tool in curbing the spread of COVID-19 – and be an endearing brand reminder to your customers. But innovative communication has always been an Achilles heel for leaders in a crisis, and South Africa is no exception,” says Rosher.
She says leaders who are too eager to make up for lost productivity, may end up either under-communicating the lingering COVID-19 threat or fail to make their brands’ messaging resonate with the market’s current form, and potentially alienating their stakeholders.
“To flatten the curve, corporates need to drive an understanding of the severity of COVID-19, which has caused a global shut down – for a reason. Whatever health initiatives are carried out should be accompanied by simple but effective communication solutions that can resonate with all stakeholders, regardless of their level of education.
“Communication efforts can only be seen as effective when all the stakeholders understand the crisis the country is currently experiencing; the potentially devastating ramifications the pandemic will have on every citizen’s life; and most importantly, the need to change their behaviour. It is only when the message is fully understood and the significance thereof resonates with our people, that the communication uptake or call to action results will improve,” explains Roscher.
She says the first directive organisations should adhere to when addressing their target markets, is issuing messaging that is factual; relevant to the current crisis; but most importantly, specific to their consumers. Without hitting these beats, organisations risk losing relevance and sales.
Apart from making the environment safe and devoid of COVID-19 as possible, leaders also need to continue sharing messages of COVID-19 with their staff across all their communication platforms.
“Organisations must remember that their best assets are still their employees. From safety protocols to the buy-in of the company’s new direction, they need to be informed. Internal communications, therefore, must be a strong core on which the organisations build upon when drafting their new communications’ strategies. Employees are also the company’s greatest ambassadors to disseminate information and to communicate an organisation’s philosophy and approach, especially to their communities.
“Corporates needs to realise that a one-size-fits-all communications approach does not work and that their consumers’ needs may be very different now compared to before the lockdown. Communication methods used to engage with their client base must therefore be tailored to and cognisant of their consumers’ shifting demands, especially while the economy is still in recovery mode,” concludes Roscher.
PR Worx is an experienced and highly-awarded marketing-communications partner for the exhibition sector. The agency can assist you with PR, publicity, social media and of course, crisis communications. Contact Madelain Roscher at firstname.lastname@example.org if you need help with PR.