Helping Customers, Employees Cope with Crisis Can Boost Your Brand

Corornavirus has the world by the throat. Here in the United States, everything from Major League Baseball to Mah Jongg night at my synagogue has shut down.

People are self-quarantining and practicing “social distancing.” They go out only to take care of necessities, like buying groceries…if they can find them in the stores.

Nobody is talking much about anything else. Almost every day I get coronavirus updates from the president of the college where I work, the supervisor of the town in which I live and the president of the synagogue where I pray.

Chinese_word_for_crisis.svgPeople need people need current – and factual – information to know what they should be doing and not doing. This information is absolutely vital, and your customers want to know how you are responding to the crisis.

John F. Kennedy said in his campaign speeches: “In the Chinese language, the word “crisis” is composed of two characters, one representing danger and the other, opportunity. The coronavirus crisis can be an opportunity for savvy marketers and communicators to bolster their brands.

You could share ideas and other useful information to help people adapt to life with little or no social contact. Tips on topics like working at home productively and family activities to counter boredom can provide good content for social media channels like LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.

Thanks to technologies that didn’t exist not too long ago, people can work from home, take classes on line and stream a wide range of entertainment. choices. Networking groups and houses of worship are using videoconferencing for virtual meetings and services.

Here are some examples of organizations that are reinforcing their brand identity and generating good will by taking advantage of these technologies to making their services available:

  • New York’s Metropolitan Opera provided a free stream of its current production of “La Boheme.”
  • Zoom Video, the videoconferencing company, is making its services available free of charge to K-12 schools. (Its stock closed up 6.85 percent March 18 while the NASDAQ lost 4.7 percent.).
  • CUNY’s Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism is marketing continuing education webinars to communications professionals who want to use their downtime productively.

Have you or the organization you work for come up with innovative ways to respond to the crisis or help people cope with it? If you are doing something truly novel, it could be newsworthy and possibly generate favorable publicity. As part of their coverage of coronavirus, journalists are looking to report stories about how people are adapting to the new reality.

Past crises such as World War II and 9-11 produced a “we are in this together” spirit. The fight to contain coronavirus and get the economy back on track must do this, as well. Communicators can create value by sharing how their employers and clients are playing their role in the fight and, at the same time, helping their customers, employees and other stakeholders play theirs.

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