Managing the Message During the Coronavirus Crisis

First appeared on ArkansasBusiness.com

Communication can prove challenging for companies in the best of times, but even more so in a crisis. Sometimes those are organization-specific crises where they’re the only one in the spotlight. Then there are the crises we cannot as easily prepare for, including natural disasters or the current situation with the coronavirus COVID-19. 

Moments of crisis are where thoughtful, strategic communication is most important. Do it right and show your organizational strength and build loyalty. Do it wrong and be remembered for your weaknesses. Here are a few communications tips from someone who’s been in the trenches with many companies at those moments where every word matters.

Take Responsibility

There are times when you need to circle the wagons and times when you need to be in front leading. In times like this, company leaders have a responsibility to guide the conversation among their staff, customers and vendors. That means sticking to the facts instead of feeding fears or rumors. It also means getting out in front of an issue and showing that you have the best interests of your people in mind, regardless of the challenges you face. Be transparent, be confident and guide the conversation so that you’re in control of what is being told to your stakeholders. 

Consider Your Audience

Your audience should always shape and influence the nature of your communication, but you must also be consistent. In a crisis, you will not always have the luxury of segmenting the audience for your communications. Rather than ignore your audience and release generalized communications, though, you should consider everyone. Realize that the internal note you send to your staff could show up on someone else’s social media account. Off-hand comments to the media will be consumed by your internal staff. Ensure that everything you say carries the right message to all of your unique audiences versus saying nothing to any of them.

One of the most important things for company leaders to realize as we all work through this new unchartered territory of COVID-19 or whatever crisis will follow is that it won’t be easy. Careful, thoughtful communications that help your employees, customers and vendors weather the storm will be remembered and rewarded once this storm has passed.

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Have a Crisis Communications Plan

The best time to plan for a crisis is yesterday. Without a solid crisis communication plan in place, once a crisis develops you will be left scrambling to keep up with it. That’s a losing scenario, so take time to plan ahead and identify your priorities. You should also outline all of your contingencies. Do you have a business continuity plan that includes details on how staff can work remotely? It’s COVID-19 today, but there could be floods or a tornado tomorrow. Figure out how to make those contingency plans work before you need them and understand how you’re going to communicate with your audiences when the time comes. Then put it on paper, make sure everyone is familiar with what it says and set a calendar reminder to dust it off every six months to make sure everyone is still up to speed.

If you don’t have a plan and you’re in the midst of all this, at minimum do some scenario planning with your team. Think: if this, then this …. identify uncertainties and different “realities” of what might happen in the future for your business.

Be the Leader You Are

There is an undeniable level of chaos and fear of the unknown in our communities right now, but if we think through our communications to clients, vendors and partners we can help set a tone of remaining calm and vigilant. As business leaders, we need to ensure our messaging does not help to proport rumors and anxiety that will only further hurt the markets, our businesses and the economy in general. While on the other hand, we need to understand this is a real crisis; we must put processes in place that keep our people and our customers safe and healthy.

If we as business owners commit to doing the right thing, having the courageous conversations and supporting our community leaders during this unprecedented time, we will weather this storm together. 

 

McDonald’s

Marketing / Communications

We help one of the world’s best brands increase sales and guest counts through reputation management and content marketing that successfully maximizes paid media efforts.
 

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Ghidotti is currently hiring for three positions listed below – Account Executive, Account Supervisor and Media Relations Manager.

Account Executive Job Description: 

In the Account Executive position, emphasis is placed on growing independent work within the areas of project management, client relations, media relations, digital/marketing, and/or lead generation among other skills. You are the face to our clients and will play an integral role in daily communication and should be able to demonstrate tactical excellence. 

  • Write client and internal correspondence effectively and with limited supervision.
  • Successfully plan and execute client activities such as media tours, digital and social campaigns, business missions and/or other special events. 
  • Proactively identify blog content story ideas and work with the supervisor to develop. 
  • Develop relevant blogs, e-newsletters and website content effectively and with limited supervision. 
  • Successfully manage independently the execution of all client content calendars, which can include media relations pitch calendars, blogs, social content and paid media campaigns.
  • Exhibit competency and efficiency in drafting copy for client marketing materials and/or campaigns, such as website content, e-newsletters, collateral materials, paid media campaigns, etc. 
  • As it relates to social/digital media, regularly suggest ideas, manage the planning, and comfortably execute campaigns on behalf of clients. Efficiency with Canva, a plus!
  • Assist in the management of interns, when applicable. 
  • Be proficient in WordPress.
  • Easily navigate agency platforms such as Cision, TVEyes, Sprout Social, Sprinklr.
  • Depending on the needs of the service area, responsibilities may extend beyond the items above as skill sets, client contracts and other extenuating circumstances dictate.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

Account Supervisor Job Description: 
In the Account Supervisor position, a staff member will be responsible for assisting and managing the public relations, content marketing, digital media, account services and/or creative/strategy for clients. This position requires fully developed specialty skills, a strong understanding of the industry landscape and an understanding of client priorities and objectives.
  • Serve as the account strategist/lead and oversee/play a clear leadership role on at least three clients.
  • Manage the implementation of work plans and ensure client deliverables are successfully met on deadline.
  • Play a leadership role in the sales process by identifying additional services to sell to existing clients and assisting with RFP responses, new business proposals, presentations, etc. with senior leadership or independently.
  • Display a strong understanding of and effectively communicate Ghidotti’s service offerings to existing clients.
  • Successfully supervise at least one junior staff member, including providing guidance on their professional growth.
  • Begin to play a role in the agency’s marketing efforts, guiding aspects of certain campaigns and/or helping to execute in their areas of expertise.

Account Services: 

  • Play a clear leadership role in the planning and execution of integrated marketing campaigns for clients.
  • Develop and write comprehensive strategic marketing plans for clients.
  • Handle vendor contracts and ensure proper billing.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of successfully meeting deadlines and timelines.
  • Handle day-of logistics on behalf of clients, responding quickly and effectively.
  • Assist in providing leadership and professional development on client relations, helping team members improve their skills in managing conflict, presentations, sales, etc.

Client Strategy: 

  • Develop or oversee the visual content creation for client materials, including e-newsletters, website content, digital campaigns, marketing collateral, etc.
  • Oversee the development of marketing materials and branding campaigns.
  • Manage creative marketing campaigns on behalf of clients.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of leading brainstorms, and providing and implementing creative ideas for proposals, presentations, etc.
  • Continually provide new and ‘fresh’ ideas for proposals, new business proposals and current clients’ marketing campaigns.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

Media Relations Manager Job Description: 

In the Media Relations Manager position, a staff member will be responsible for assisting and managing the public relations, content marketing, digital media, account services and/or strategy for clients. This position requires fully developed specialty skills, a strong understanding of the public relations industry landscape and an understanding of client priorities and objectives. 

Main Responsibilities – General: 

  • Serve as the account strategist/lead and oversee/play a clear leadership role on media relations client accounts.
  • Display a strong understanding of and effectively communicate Ghidotti’s service offerings to existing clients. 
  • Successfully supervise at least one junior staff member, including providing guidance on their professional growth.

Main Responsibilities – Media Relations: 

  • Develop strategic media relations plans, direct management and outreach for client accounts with the supervision of Senior Leadership.
  • Perform with Senior Leadership to prepare a plan for strategic crisis communications.
  • Manage and facilitate the execution of media relations outreach for special events, programs and major initiatives.
  • Perform as spokesperson and coordinates official responses to media inquiries.
  • Conduct media training with clients in preparation for external media interviews. 
  • Support framing and development of main message points for better positioning prior to media interviews.
  • Prepare speeches, talking points and varied communications materials assisting client spokespersons.
  • Write pitches, backgrounders, press releases, key messages and blog posts.
  • Manage and monitor reporter hotline, client media relations calendar, metrics, media relations processes and press release approvals.
  • Propose ideas proactively for media pitches to stimulate media coverage.
  • Consistently pitch stories and secure strategic media placements assisting client reputation and business goals.
  • Manage and supervise media events along with initiatives defining company stories.
  • Identify proactive stories for trade, business as well as consumer media across multiple client industries.
  • Develop and maintain close media relations to improve press efforts.
  • Identify brands promoting opportunities and improve awareness of services and products.

Main Responsibilities – Client Strategy: 

  • Develop or oversee the visual content creation for client materials, including e-newsletters, website content, digital campaigns (webinar/live stream events), etc.
  • Demonstrate a clear track record of leading brainstorms and providing and implementing creative ideas for proposals, presentations, etc.
  • Continually provide new and ‘fresh’ ideas for new business proposals and current clients’ PR campaigns.

Apply for this open position by emailing Bethany Siems at bethany@ghidotti.com.

 

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