HWCOC Blog

How to Communicate Effectively During a Crisis

As the coronavirus crisis continues, the one certainty is that the situation changes daily. Your or organization may be grappling with the ongoing challenge of working with remote teams, servicing customers in new ways, and possibly even survival.  This is a time for businesses and organizations to level-up day-to-day communication with all stakeholders.

It is vital to provide clear, factual, and useful communication. If you are a business owner or leader, you must continue to communicate with your customers, employees, vendors, board members, investors, and others. Do you have a plan in place? Are you making adjustments based on these new conditions?

The messaging you were using a month, or even a week ago simply may not work today. You may need to update your messaging daily or weekly. You may have to change how you do business. Flexibility and honesty are your best tools.

Here are 6 tips to effective communication during a crisis:

Have situation awareness. Be aware of what’s happening in your community and keep up with the daily changes to health advisories and guidance from local officials. Be prepared for any scenario and create messaging for each outcome so you can instantly communicate with your stakeholders as your situation changes. Remain honest, factual, and calm, and check-in with your stakeholders regularly via phone.

Listen to your employees. They are anxious about their livelihoods. Prepare appropriate and clear messaging. Set up regular briefings via Zoom or send a daily email. Establish a regular schedule so your employees can hear from you firsthand how the company is operating. Allow them to ask questions and share their feelings. Remain honest, factual, and calm.

Don’t be tone-deaf. Make sure the tone of your message is appropriate. Now is not the time to push sales in every social media post. When talking about the coronavirus, stick to the facts, and be serious. It’s okay to offer some content that is lighthearted and encouraging but doesn’t forget people are getting sick and dying while others are deeply concerned about their future.

Provide information regularly. Keep stakeholders updated on developments that affect your company’s operations. Make sure your employees are prepared for all eventualities. Let your customers know you’re still in business, and if your products and services may be delayed. Setting expectations and avoiding surprises as much as possible will get you through the long haul and set you up to recover after the pandemic passes.

Offer resources. It is easy to hit information overload. And a lot of misinformation is circulating right now. You can help your stakeholders by providing them with accurate and timely information that comes from credible sources. Provide links to organization websites (local elected officials and health departments, the CDC, local news outlets, etc.) that will help them understand the virus, what’s happening in the community, how to manage stress, and more.

Be creative. Maybe your company can help the community. Do you have food to donate? Can you help with an existing initiative? How about other services? Lend your expertise to others. This is a good time to spread the word about your business in a positive manner, especially if you offer something to help people get through the next weeks or months.

Your leadership skills will be tested daily. Will you rise to the occasion? Using messaging that informs and is helpful will put you ahead of your competitors. How can you best serve your customers during this time? Understanding how to reach them and what message resonates with them will be key. Make adjustments as needed. Be responsible. 

Most importantly, be kind. We are all in this together and we will get through it.

10 Steps to Build Brand Loyalty.

By Michael Mallon
Storyteller Promotions 

If you are in a business that prefers Loyal and Devoted customers as opposed to those who shop solely on price, or convenience, or speed, then there are some steps you need to take to create that Raving Fan. I have spent the last two decades studying the brands that have created loyalty amongst their followers and they all share these qualities.

1. They Have a Simple Single Stated Purpose – Simon Sinek, calls it your Why. Some refer to it as a cause, a belief. It is a vision of the future that does not yet exist, yet you are dedicated to expend all of your resources to achieve it, AND, you can utter it throughout your organization in one simple sentence.

2. They Understand Purpose vs Task – You and your team may perform many tasks, but know that deep within is that purpose and its pursuit. They know that each and every task or role within the organization exists for one reason and that is to pursue the purpose.

3. They Have Courageous Leadership – The company’s leadership is willing to adhere to the pursuit of the stated purpose and standards of care. They are willing sacrifice short term gains for the long term vision. They are willing to jeopardize losing the wrong customer to maintain their brand integrity and care for the right customer

4. They have Prioritized Standards of Care with identified & Specific Acceptable Behaviors that each and every team member displays at each and every interaction with the Brand.

5. They Educate their team members as opposed to Train them how to perform a task. They know that a team member who understands Why they perform a specific function, in a specific way, at a specific point, creates an environment where people are fulfilled at the end of the day.

6. They have Trusting Teams that possess a consistent & overwhelming desire within the group to get better at what they do, how they do it and for whom they do it.

7. They have A Deep Understanding of the Expectations of the people within their organization and those who use their services or product. They anticipate their needs, wants and desires, and seek to exceed them every day.

8. They Know What Competes against them instead of Who; they play the long game of business and know that sometimes you don’t run with the pack. They focus on being a better version of themselves as opposed beating their perceived competitor; instead of running to win, they run to be a better runner.

9. When things go wrong, and they always will, They Attack the Process that led to the mistake, NOT the People involved.

10. They are Conscious of the Show created by the expectations of the people they serve. Shakespeare famously said, “All the World is a Stage”; the smart brands Give their customers what they NEED, even when, THEY DON’T KNOW, THEY WANT IT

Share your Business Ideas to Our Business Blog

Criteria for submitting a Business blog to the HWCOC Business Resources Blog Page

  1. Blog must be on a business subject and something every member could learn from and utilize in their business. EX. How to collect on invoice, How to deal with difficult customers, How to keep up with ever changing forms of media, the best marketing tools for every budget.
  2. Must be between 500-900 words
  3. Please use colloquial term, laymen terms
  4. Format your blog in a legible manner. Does your blog topic read better in paragraph form or breaking it down into bullets and numbers?
  5. If your blog is about tips, post no more than 10 tips at a time. EX. “10 online marketing tools you need when starting a business”

Ideas

  • Talk about trends in business.
  • Pose a question.
  • Discuss future plans in your industry, give readers a sneak peak on what you’ll be doing in the coming year.
  • Review a book or piece of media, if you’ve read something that you think your consumers might like, give a write up.
  • Report on a conference you’ve attended.
  • Explain how you do it. Do you have a special way you make your product, handle returns or welcome new customers? Describe your process.
  • Talk about your blunders. “Success is you reaction to your failures, how have you succeeded?”.
  • Share your vision.
  • How did you get your idea?
  • A day in the life.
  • Mention a popular post, if you notice a post by a popular blogger in your niche getting a lot of attention, add your viewpoint and link to the original post.
  • Answer questions anyone is asking.

How to submit your blog

All blogs will be reviewed for approval prior to being posted.
Selected blogs will be posted on the 3rd week of the month to the hwcoc website and a link will be placed on all applicable media.
Blogs must be received by the 2nd week of the month to marketing@hwcoc.org

HWCOC Blog Posts

How to Plan a Ribbon Cutting

When to Have One

Almost every occasion is appropriate for a ribbon-cutting ceremony. You do not need to have something new and BIG to show off. A brand new business, new digs, a big remodel to accommodate growth are great reasons to celebrate. But you can also celebrate your company’s birthday, the launch of the new services you’ll be offering or another year with the Chamber. When you want to draw attention in a big way, a ribbon-cutting ceremony makes a big splash without having to spend a huge amount of money.

Choose Your Date and Time

Give yourself a month to plan the ceremony and to get on the calendars of the people you want to attend. If your new space is still being finished, wait until you’re certain when the new space really will be finished before you plan your ribbon cutting. Don’t take the contractor’s word for it. Many things are out of his control, including when his vendors will actually deliver.

Check with HWCOC team and with any officials you want to attend before finalizing the date. Having them in attendance makes your business and your news look more important. Make sure there’s nothing else going on that day in the neighborhood because that could pull attendees away from your event or it could take up all the parking spaces so people can’t get to your event.

Ask our team what time we recommend, we do this often and see what has proven to be successful. Don’t hold the ceremony too late in the day. An hour before noon or an hour prior to the end of the business day will allow people to take a longer lunch. At 4-4:30 p.m., many business folks will be able to break away, attend your ceremony, and can also try to get home early.

Spread the Word

We always invite our Ambassadors to attend the ribbon cuttings, alert our membership via email and encourage new members to attend. However, if you are trying to spread the word about your business, go beyond this. Make a list of everyone you would like to attend. Follow up with emails to your friends and close business associates. Tell them to spread the word, too. Attend Chamber events and personally invite members you meet to attend. Post the event on social media, and, as the event draws closer, keep updating the page. Change your posts to make them interesting and to keep people coming back. Announce your social media presence in your company newsletter and emails.

Prepare Invitations and Flyers

For your invitations and flyers, you’ll need the following information:

  • WHO: Your company name
  • WHAT/WHY: Ribbon Cutting Ceremony for our ____(new building, new location, etc.)
  • WHEN: Day of the week, date and time (i.e. Thursday, July 19, 20__)
  • WHERE: Address for the event
  • R.S.V.P. : Phone number (and name if needed i.e. “Call Marion at (xxx) xxx-xxxx ext. X”)
  • Refreshments will be served

People who are on the fence about coming or who have multiple invitations for the same time, will often come to yours — if you’re serving food. If you’re having the event catered, note on the invitation something which indicates that food better than potato chips and punch will be served. For example, you can write: “Assorted appetizers from Le Chef will be served.”

Plan the Ceremony

Make a checklist of what you want to happen at your ceremony:

  • Emcee/Host – Someone from your company or a local “celebrity”? Emcee introduces speakers and keeps event moving
  • Speakers – Who will talk about your news, give a brief synopsis and thanks? Maximum of 2 speakers, 1-2 minutes each
  • Ribbon Cutter/Holders – Should be owners, partner, etc., flanked by chamber of commerce dignitary and other VIPs, perhaps family
  • Entertainment/Demo/Guides – Music, demo of a new product? People stationed in each room to explain what’s new?
  • Food – Choose and book the caterer. Food should be simple and easy to eat. Don’t forget utensils, plates, cups & ice.
  • Photographer – Hire your own photographer so that you’re not dependent on the media.

Please reach out to our team if you have any questions. We want your ribbon cutting ceremony to be a success!