April 3, 2020


This is not a drill.

Whatever happened to 2020 being THE year is now in our rearview mirror.

When it comes to handling crisis, when managed correctly, a company may find itself in a stronger position than before. Customers may feel a renewed trust. If you properly maintain proactive, continuous communication throughout the situation, once on the other side, you will be who the customer remembers as you will already be top of mind.

Right now – as the situation continues to shift and change from day to day, here are general tips to help over the next 30 days.


It is safe to say we are through the first round of communication where you let customers know you are monitoring the current situation and that their health and safety come first. We are now in the next phase of “what’s next” for your company. Unfortunately, without a set timeframe to work from, remaining flexible will be key. From announcing when you think your company may reopen to a moving target date for when you could accept sales and/or reservations once again, various ways to communicate these messages include:

  • Email database distribution. Plan and plot your distributions carefully. Cut in half how often you traditionally communicated with customers and when you do, have new information to offer such as a new date you can accept reservations, significant changes to your procedures and operations for the foreseeable future or a quick summary with photos of how you are giving back to the community. (More than that shortly.)
  • Website messaging on the landing page. Media are also currently checking websites for what pricing will look like for May, June and July, therefore make sure your pricing is properly calibrated.
  • Social media, keeping in mind the messaging for business platforms (Google My Business, LinkedIn, Twitter) should sound different than the more consumer-friendly platforms (Instagram, Facebook). In addition, monitor comments and respond quickly.


Here is one thing many can agree on: when it comes time to reopen, it will be fast and furious. When that time comes – and it will, even if it doesn’t feel like it right now –  ideas to keep in mind:

  • Are you going to host a reopening event? If so – what will that look like? Who should be there? How will “social distancing” still be a part of that event?
  • Do you have to change your messaging and tone as we enter a “new normal?”
  • If you sell memberships or season passes, what are you doing to make up this missed time to your customers? Media are writing about companies that either continue to charge customers even though everything is on hold and/or refuse to issue refunds. Instead of seeing this as lost revenue, turn this around and make this an opportunity to show customers your company cares, e.g. extend memberships for 90 days for free, allow the owner of the season pass to bring one person for free for the remainder of the contract. These are the types of stories media will want to hear about.
  • What will your special offers be upon reopening? Customer spending will not automatically return to where it was before, therefore easing your customers into spending again will be key. BOGO offers are not the answer. Instead, is it a special price that now includes a complimentary VIP upgrade? Is it a price that is special to your company, e.g. you were founded in 1989 therefore a service that was $40 is now offered for $19.89 for the first 30 days following the shutdown?
  • Engage your PR team to review and refresh your marketing plan. What you thought 2020 would look like when your team wrote the plan in 2019 now vastly differs from our new collective reality.


Currently, media wants to hear about good news and stories to counter the bad. Is your company donating supplies to first responders? Delivering meals to the homeless or single parents struggling to make ends meet? Are you working with fellow local businesses to temporarily create a new service such as this and this?

These are all great deeds the media should know about but also be cognizant about how this information reaches the media. If it is through news releases, it may not seem as genuine as it will feel pre-planned vs. it being executed as an in-the-moment, grassroots efforts. Activate your PR teams to communicate with media on a one-on-one basis: have your call and/or text journalists with whom they have strong relationships to let them know about the good your company is doing. Concurrently, your PR team should be in contact with their counterparts at the organization(s) benefitting from your generosity. In the event media reach out to the organization for comment, not only will they know this good deed is coming down the pike, they will also be able to be on the same page as you regarding messaging.

The reality is our world is changing daily. Stay flexible with your messaging and remain proactive by continuing to share updates with customers and when appropriate, the media.

We’re all in this together.