8 ways to support clients during Covid-19

Contributed by Shaimaa El Nazer, MEPRA Youth Board member and Consultant

Communications and PR agencies play a fundamental role to support organisations navigate through crises of a macroenvironmental nature, such as Covid-19. Whether your forecast of business in Q1 and 2 are continuing as planned or has shifted dramatically, here are a few key ways to support your clients:

  1. Be there. Reassure your clients that you and your team are available and accessible despite the different work arrangements in place
  2. Issue management. Brush out that crisis communications plan you once developed with your client. Depending on their industry and involvement in the situation, advise them on the level of preparation and action course that need to be implemented in response to Covid-19
  3. Media training. Run a refresher media training to your client’s spokespeople. Aim to fully prepare them should they need to interact with the media over the next few weeks. The longer the situation remains, the wider industries media will look to engage with in order to diversify their stories. They will certainly reach out to your client sooner or later
  4. Monitor, monitor. Ensure you follow the local and international news by the hour. Try to be the initial source of updates to your clients. Send them frequent – but digestible – news bites through their preferred means of communications, and importantly, alert them to breaking news as they happen
  5. Find your audience. With the massive shift in communications dynamics as a result of the outbreak, you might want to run a fresh audit into where your client’s audience best receives communications at the moment (websites, social media, email, text messages etc.) Develop a new content marketing approach for the short term in response
  6. Plan ahead. While it seems we are facing a long term issue, it will inevitably end. You would want your client to be ready with a comeback strategy and plan. Use the time you have now to start working on this plan so you are fully prepared and ready when the time comes
  7. Keep the news coming. The oxygen to the news agenda now is undoubtedly Covid-19 related stories. However, reporters are happy to hear non-virus related stories to vary their headlines and push positive stories. Revisit your news pipeline, push the sensibly mindful ones (long term collaborations, industry insights, initiatives etc.) and park the ones that contradicts the current context
  8. Be genuine and personal. Advise your client to reshape their communications in a way that best resonates with members of the community. Work with them to develop narratives that are relevant and supportive to what their audience is experiencing amidst the situation. This could have a great impact on brand perception, one that will last for long