Covid-19 has been a scary time of many unknowns for most humans across the globe. Different industry sectors have had sole focus on surviving these unprecedented times. Fast forward over a year from the Covid-19 breakout and everyone is now feeling the post-pandemic effects. Businesses are no exception and are trying to move forward from surviving, towards a hopeful future of thriving.
One of the post effects has been severe industry shortages. Everyday items such as toilet paper, diapers, chicken, ketchup, to industry specifics such as pool liners and chlorine, computer chips used in popular technology like cars and smart phones, to building materials like lumber and metal is just a small list of products that are harder to come by, and quite a bit more expensive. The surge of unemployment has also caused labor shortages and lack of workers, causing businesses to have limited help leading to reduced operating hours.
With these shortages companies are facing delayed project timelines, limited product availability, product and service price increases, and profit loss in trying to find product alternatives to bide time. At StrataBlue, we’ve had clients request our public relations guidance in crafting and navigating the murky waters of communicating these industry shortages with their customers.
Everyone knows the saying, “Your true colors are shining through”, and that term is one that should be at the forefront of any company mind through any difficult situation. The first rule of thumb when navigating any crisis is that businesses need to stay close to their core values. Crisis and emergencies result in change and unforeseen circumstances. What can be controlled during these times, is the messaging and the way a company communicates with its audience or customer base.
When our clients come to us for best crisis PR advice, we often remind them of four common values to keep in mind: Communication, Transparency, Empathy, and Honesty.
Communication: Don’t go rogue or silent. In a tech-driven world, access to information is everywhere. This is why it’s particularly important to respond in a timely fashion. The quicker a company communicates with its audience, the better the odds are that they’re able to frame the situation at hand and be proactive, rather than constantly be on the reactive.
Transparency: Regardless, a company’s actions will be analyzed through each moment of a crisis. It’s best to be transparent from the starting line of a situation and set realistic expectations with your customers. It’s impossible to have transparency, without authenticity and your audience will always respond more positively when they don’t feel patronized or deceived.
Empathy: In any tough situation, conveying genuine concern for all parties involved increases chances of understanding and acceptance. Empathy also goes hand in hand with listening to your audience, pay attention to the way that they are responding so that your company can adjust the context of their messaging to answer those customer needs.
Honesty: Under-promise and over-deliver, this is a motto that we watch many companies fail at in a time of distress. If product prices need to increase to meet the industry demand, be honest with your audience base of why. This reminds them of the brand’s desire to stay of quality and shows that your company is willing to take ownership of the situation.
When a crisis finally passes, you want your audience to remember the way your organization arose to the challenges and did so in way that truly encompasses the values plastered to their website and branding. Withstanding change by living your core company values creates credibility, long-term goodwill, and brand loyalty.