In times of crisis, when the societal norms we are used to having been stretched, and we’ve entered a new paradigm of separation, communication has taken center stage. It’s the one way we have left amongst all the stress and anxiety form the unknown that can keep us connected. This time presents a unique opportunity for businesses to show their human side.
In Western civilization, we often hear that the Chinese letters that represent “Crisis” are the combination of the letters for “Danger” and “Opportunity.” As with everything in science, the universe, or however you relate to our existence, everything is about balance. For every positive, there is a negative. For every down, there is an up. And so, for every loss, there is an opportunity.
Mankind will always find an opportunity in crisis.
Did you know that more millionaires were created during the great depression than at any other time in history?
More people became millionaires during this time than at any other time in American history. Opportunities that were not present during the 1920s economic boom times suddenly became available. An economic downturn is an excellent time to start a business. Start-up costs are much lower in a recession than in boom periods. Savvy entrepreneurs edged in and positioned themselves for when the economic climate improved.
—January 03, 2020, Kimberly Amadeo,The Balance, “1920s Economy
What Made the Twenties Roar”
As with previous times of crisis, the human community will emerge changed. We will have been torn apart and put back together. We will have seen the best in people surpass the worst in people. For every person hoarding toilet paper, we’ll have seen ten people willing to share theirs with a neighbor. After a time of crisis, when we show that with humanity, it is not about the “me”; it is about the “we,” we will emerge, once again, a strengthened human community. If we understand that through crisis we also evolve, then we can reflect on the opportunities provided by each evolution. Where is your opportunity? Now is the time to focus on working on creativity, developing your message to be released both during and after a crisis. How you react to this time will be a determining factor of whether you are one of those that ride the wave of success that always follows a change-event.
In times like these, it is about the quality of the communications and message and not about the quantity. During these times we find examples of appropriate and not so communications everywhere. I’ve gathered a sampling of them here:
- Communicate from a human perspective and acknowledge the crisis. A crisis provides a unique opportunity to cut through the fear and anxiety by driving messaging that while it acknowledges the obvious, it is focused on positive, reflective outcomes. Every crisis eventually unravels, let your brand be a guiding light during this period. Always remembering to be human, not pandering, but strengthening.
- Show what you stand for: Share how you’re reacting positively towards this crisis, the measures you are taking to take care of your people. We recently saw a private club post on social media that they will close for the next two weeks but that they will be refunding membership fees. The reaction was swift; people didn’t care about the costs, they wanted to know how they were taking care of their people. The club responded that they would be covering the salaries of all staff during this time, which was very well received, but that was a lost opportunity to have made the team the center of the message.
- Get creative: In California, the governor laid out a crisis guidance for our most recent crisis, letting us know that wineries, bars, and restaurants would be closing. To address that, a very innovative winery came up with the idea of “virtual wine tastings” with their wine club. The way this worked was by setting a time for everyone to hop on a virtual conference call and taste their wine club wines together with the Vintners. The results were incredible and the brand was recognized for being in resonance with the times.
- Think of the Community: Crisis is an excellent time for your firm to put their money where their mouth is. We are being called to help. We have been shown that we cannot rely solely on the government to take charge and solve problems during a crisis. The first step is to Identify community initiatives or local giving that your organization can support. From places like food banks, and homeless shelters, to more creative initiatives like child care, elder care, and low-income families
- Understand your audience: Be aware of who is your existing audience and be cognizant of what your target’s pains and priorities are. During a time of crisis, priorities shift to security, family, and community. How can you be a part of that conversation? In recent days we’ve seen grocers like Woolworths in Australia, establish a “senior hour” so that senior citizens can shop early, when the stores have been cleaned and restocked, to ensure they get a chance to get what they need in safety. Get it. Safety, seniors (family) and awareness (community). During a crisis, small reflections can go a long way.
- Act like nothing is happening: We’ve seen emails from national brands that seem so disconnected. Pushing the “SALE” or “Black Friday is Back” messaging. During this time of uncertainty, we couldn’t care less about your tepid attempts at capitalizing on people being home.
- Be Tone-Deaf: Sending messaging that communicate how frustrated you are to have to cancel sessions for the first time since you launched your business, and your incredible network of over X amount of locations has never had to close its doors when people are more concerned about whether your employees will be taken care of, shows your insensitivity to what truly matters. During a crisis, we don’t care about you being less wealthy, when we don’t know if we’re going to be able to pay our bills.
- Send an email or post for the sake of sending an email or post: We all know what’s happening. Unless someone is living under a rock. There’s no need to send or post multiple communications with the same message of how you’re aware that this is an imposition, but you’re there with us.
Share your thoughts on do’s and don’ts with us, and we may add them to the list.
At times of need, we seek to reinvent. During the plague, through a period of self-isolation, Sir Isaac Newton had the time to explore and ponder, eventually yielding the laws of nature included in the Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy. Although it took him 20 years to publish it, you’re possibly familiar with the laws he devised:
- A body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in motion unless acted upon by an external force.
- The force acting on an object is equal to the mass of that object times its acceleration – or in mathematical notation, F = ma.
- For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Creativity flourishes in times of need. We have an abundance of energy in the air to harness. Take this time to work “on your business” more than “in your business.” After a wave of crisis and its consequences like the possibility of a recession, we will see a wave of hope, community, and growth. Take time to think about the previous crisis and what transformations they brought about.
9/11 highlighted our need for action in communications and security. Still, it also alerted us to the importance of acknowledging other cultures, working together to build a world focused on humanity as a whole, and the importance of shared responsibility for this earth. Businesses like Clear, capitalized on this time, made Steve Brill (owner) a millionaire after 9/11 by being a company that uses our biometric data (fingerprints, irises, faces, and voices) to change the world.
After any crisis, we will work to find ways to return to “normal” or the established “new normal.” After the final wave of the Spanish flu subsided in February 1919, the market began an increase of 50%, which lasted until November of 1919. Still, no one can say if it was tied to the end of the war or the disappearance of the disease; however, what is true is that after every one of these “collapses,” particularly when they are worldwide collapses; humankind strives to outperform. In this case, as with the Spanish flu and world war, we’ll be coming out of a “world event” so the push will be even harder to go even further.
The time is now to ready your positive, community-minded message. Let’s remember that the roaring 20’s happened right after the end of World War I and the Spanish Flu pandemic. How will you be there? What will your brand represent? What part of our new normal will you be a driver of?
The time is Now.
If you need help understanding how to connect with your customers reach out to us at Wicked Bionic.