The best approach for Utah business PR employees in today’s climate
“Where do I even start?” It’s probably a question that many of us are saying aloud these days when it comes to our personal and professional lives. When it comes to communicating with customers in the age of COVID-19, many business owners shifted their messaging when the pandemic first led to social distancing. Now, as the country is slowly beginning to reemerge for face-to-face interaction, that messaging may need to change again. The ever-changing nature of the pandemic is making it more difficult to solidify a PR strategy.
If you work for a business that has a designated PR team, be it large or small, there may be some uncertainty around what type of message your business wants to promote through internal and external media. McKinnley Matson, a senior PR executive with experience in media relations, crisis communications, and strategic planning for consumer and enterprise brands, recently shared her ideas around PR and its current role in an article for the Utah Business website.
Keeping your own employees informed
Matson suggests that employees in charge of PR should refocus their energy on internal and external messaging to meet different scenarios, particularly if they’re in an industry that isn’t booming right now. First, you’ll want to have a communication plan for your employees. If you have an existing plan, review it to be sure it meets the needs of the current situation. If you don’t have a plan, it’s important to create one as soon as possible.
“Now more than ever, your employees need you to lead with boldness and show—through your actions and your words—that you are concerned about them and are making decisions with them in mind,” Matson said.
What you communicate to employees will depend on your business’s situation, but leaders are advised to be as transparent as possible with details about the state of affairs and access to resources to help support all members of your team on a professional as well as a personal level. Encouraging wellness and balance while emphasizing a focus on self-care as well as productivity is important.
“Regardless, be clear, authentic, and compassionate,” Matson said. “Make yourself available as a resource when questions arise.”
Keep your customers in the loop
Speaking directly to your customer base is also important. Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. How might the pandemic be affecting them, and how does that tie to your business? Is there a way you can alleviate a stressor for your customers? Some businesses are waiving fees or extending payment deadlines. Others are unable to help in this way, but are focusing messaging on support and remaining positive.
Let your customers know how they can continue to reach you if your doors are currently shuttered. Reassure them that you are committed to them and are there to support them. Whatever the communication looks like, just be sure it is happening. While social distancing is physically keeping people apart, it is also allowing people to come closer together through technology than ever before.
Sharing in times of crisis
If your business’s circumstances are such that communication with external media is necessary, be sure your PR staff has developed a solid approach for crisis communication. Tact and sensitivity to your audience and their reality are paramount at this time.
“There are two ways to approach communications during a crisis: proactively or reactively,” she said. “Now more than ever, consumers are looking to brands for solidarity and hope. If you deceive them or give them reason to perceive, in any way, that you’re in this for profit rather than people, you’ll lose their trust completely. “
Matson used education as an example of an industry that is doing a good job in these areas. Online learning companies are allowing free or discounted access for parents to help teach their children from home. Colleges and universities are offering online modules to upskill or learn something new, some with low or no-cost options. And K-12 teachers all over the country have adapted to teaching in a remote environment with no notice, introducing students and parents to new technologies and ways to learn as they themselves are learning.
Ultimately, sensitive and genuine messaging is what will make the best impression for your business and let your customers know you care.
Choosing the best lending option to continue success for your Utah business
For fledgling businesses who are experiencing the unexpected impacts of social distancing and seasoned businesses that lived through crises in the past alike, you need to focus your attention on keeping your business afloat and your customers engaged. One worry we can remove from your list is related to your funding needs. At First Utah Bank, we understand the impact the right funding solutions can have on a small businesses and can provide you with options.
Our term loans are a good way to use a specific amount of money to fit a specific need or to purchase assets that will help keep your business on the right track. There are many options for term loans that make sense for a small business, including commercial vehicle purchases, long-term working capital, business debt consolidation or investment in commercial real estate. These types of loans are on a predetermined schedule based on interest payments and a monthly principal. The rates for these loans are usually fixed, but our team can look into variable rates if that’s something that makes better sense for your business needs.
We are here to support your needs related to funding so you can focus on your customers. Talk to your Salt Lake City business loan officers to see how term loans might benefit your business. Learn more at our term loans website, or call First Utah Bank at 801-308-2265.