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Communication tips for health brands during the COVID-19 crisis

Health and wellbeing products and services are in demand overdrive, but audience accessibility has been restricted. This coupled with the angst of a failing economy presents a new audience mindset never seen on such scale before. The question is, how do we as health and wellbeing brands traverse this current crisis into the next ‘twilight’ stage and beyond, surviving and thriving? We need to ensure we are sensitive to current audience sentiments—fear, anxiety, helplessness—with not only the physical challenges but also the sudden social change to self-isolation, coupled with the impending economic disaster. We need to evolve in a fast, agile digitally-led way.

Right now, our communications focus needs to move swiftly to the following:

Get close to your audience

  • Listen, share, act—use social listening tools, such as Sprout and Radian 6, to understand what engages them, what they want more of, less of, what is making them fearful and seek feedback proactively.
  • Social and digital content—that connects with them with relevance, authenticity and empathy and a touch of joy. Share content that is relevant, educational, entertaining and informative.
  • Recognisable purpose—your organisation exists for some reason other than just making money, so let that purpose inform how you offer value beyond just what you sell – is it keeping them healthy? Or enabling them to become mobile again? Whatever it is, weave purpose now into your narrative
  • Community management—ensure we listen, hear and tap every opportunity to connect at a deeper level for long-term relationship building, ensuring we as brands don’t take the place of qualified practitioners unless we are qualified in our own right. Make sure you have the best credentials on your team relaying external communication.

Communicate with your employees

Employee engagement and management at this time is absolutely crucial in order to maintain business capability. Get a clear plan in place. Any gaps in communication leads to questioning of leadership through this crisis and erodes confidence with disastrous knock-on effects. Keep in view the emerging crisis is more mental than physical and employee assistance should be on tap.

If your organisation’s purpose has been conveyed to your team in the past, now is the time to remind them that if you do more than just sell things, your team will be working for more than just pay, but remember that you can never expect more commitment to the cause from them than leaders demonstrate themselves.

Digital activities enable leaders to continue to connecting, inspiring and driving productivity and engagement.

Check in on the wellbeing of your team regularly. The situation is changing every day, so you need to be addressing it every day, even if it just takes a few minutes.

Talk to your external stakeholders and supply chain partners

A corporate communications framework to harness the power of the supply chain evolution is now required on a deeper than ever level. 

'Health & Wellbeing' fits largely into ‘essential’ products and services, and keeping up with demand is creating greating pressure on manufacturers and other supply chain partners than ever. Keep them close and nurture those relationships—in a time of need, they will be quick to support you. Maintaining solid supplier partnerships has become even more critical during this time.

Crisis and reputation management

Corporate communications responses require careful planning at the best of times, most of all in a time of crisis to ensure the business reputation remains intact. Media (and government) are watching closely to ensure that safety and fairness are on top of the agenda.

Ensure you have a solid crisis plan in place so that if required you are well prepared. Secure a team of leading communications professionals across health, wellbeing and corporate reputation who can be at the ready to plan, implement and support your brand across traditional and social media channels.

 

Download a copy of Gillian Fish's free guide on Health and Wellbeing Communications in Covid19 and Beyond dedicated to ensuring brands survive and come out of the other side thriving.

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