Simon Pilkington
March 29, 2020

5 Things Your Brand Can Do To Respond And Adapt To A Crisis

Need some help with crisis response on social media? We share our top 5 tips, from crafting a statement, to adapting your business to weather the storm.

In times of crisis it can be difficult for brands to find their place in the conversation. But businesses are a huge part of every society, and provide products, services, jobs and more to local communities, so naturally you have a voice and should use it.
We’ve created this guide to crafting your response to the current crisis, outlining different positive steps that you can take as a business to guide your customers and support your community.

1. Make a clear and positive statement of action

It may sound obvious, but the safety of your customers, staff and neighbours comes before your profits. That means if you run a business that has regular foot traffic you will be closing your doors for a while.
For other businesses that operate behind closed doors, it’s likely that your staff will have to work from home at this time.
Your first action should be to provide a clear explanation to both your employees and customers about how the restrictions will affect your operation.
Keep it simple and straightforward, focussing on opening hours and new working arrangements. Share it on social media with your fans across channels, and we recommend sending an email newsletter.
Pret A Manger posted a straightforward statement announcing that they will be temporarily closing locations. The tone is respectful and serious, paying respect to their customers and healthcare workers. They are clear that the shutdown is temporary so that alarm bells do not ring for their employees, and they steer the focus onto their charitable contributions.
Nut butter brand Pip & Nut took a warm and heartfelt approach in a letter displayed across an Instagram carousel. This can be a great way to get your audience engaged with your message if they are usually used to focussing on image or video content.

2. Support local healthcare and emergency workers

No one makes greater sacrifices than local emergency workers. As a brand you can offer support to local nurses, doctors, police and other public servants who are on the front-line of the current pandemic every day.
By creating special offers, or giving away something for free to these valued community members, you will be remembered for a campaign of kindness in tough times, and win over a chunk of the market once things are on the up.
Some of the most important people at this time are the people who look after us and our loved ones. To say thanks, we’re shouting any healthcare workers a free small McCafé hot drink or medium soft drink.— McDonald's Australia (@maccas) March 22, 2020
McDonalds offered Australian healthcare workers a free drink when they present their ID or are in uniform. It’s a small gesture from a huge brand, but getting a free cup of coffee everyday can be really meaningful for someone who is overworked and underpaid. A good move.

3. Reimagine your product or service delivery

Nearly all businesses are facing some kind of challenge right now, as the economic knock on effect rumbles through the global market. In these times it’s not the big who eat the small, but often the fast who eat the slow.
Taking an innovative approach to the delivery of your product or service will help you to weather the storm a little more comfortably.
The obvious example of this in practice are restaurants shifting to a contactless delivery model, or retail stores offering contactless payment. However, some brands are taking things a step further.
Restaurant chain Salt Meats Cheese have created a new daily special menu and special offer additional tapas just for delivery orders. While many brands are focussed on seamlessly continuing business as usual despite the crisis, Salt Meats Cheese have embraced the chain and taken the opportunity to launch new dishes.
Exclusive hotel and members club Soho House normally receive a monthly subscription fee from their members. However with most of their locations on lockdown clients are unable to use the service. In order to retain their membership, they are crediting members’ accounts with the equivalent amount to spend at their spa, shop and restaurant when they reopen.
While this may seem like an expensive move, they have realised the cost of offering a free meal or two to each member when they reopen is much less than the losing the lifetime value of a member cancelling their membership.

4. Encourage your customers to stay home

It’s becoming clear that the fastest way out of the current situation is for us all to intensively isolate now. As a part of your local community it is your responsibility to support local healthcare workers and help create a clear narrative to stay home and self isolate.
Increased government restrictions mean even more control on your brands ability to operate. So if curfews and lockdowns are enforced, this could mean the amazing innovations created to serve your customers at home will not be possible.
To avoid this we need to educate our fans and incentivise them to stay home and stay safe. This can range from light encouragement, such as the memes posted by Xbox relating to video game heroes.
While the content of these memes is not particularly creative, it is important to let your loyal followers know that you are not sitting on the fence about the regulations.

5. Protect your staff and contractors whenever possible

The current climate has put a lot of pressure on businesses and particularly the self-employed. Showing loyalty to your team in times of uncertainty will not be forgotten, and says a lot about you as a company. If you are willing to take a hit to profits in order to keep someone on the books, they will in turn go the extra mile for you.
Your customers and followers will judge you based on your actions in these times. Just look at the negative press created around Virgin’s initial policy for staff to take unpaid leave. The following debacle flared up into a legal dispute between Virgin and Qantas, with the advertising watchdog getting involved. Regardless of how serious the claims are, this kind of corporate dispute does not reflect well on either brand when the world needs unity.
Virgin has now mobilised with some effective PR to show that $250 million dollars has been provided to protect jobs. However being slow to react caused a huge media storm which could have been avoided with some more careful manoeuvring.
The lesson to be learnt here is to put your team before profit. The current situation will pass for most of us, so don’t underestimate the long term value of your employees when trying to cut a bigger margin, as your top talent will not hesitate to move to the competition.

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