With COVID-19 overwhelming world coverage, increasing fears, and disrupting businesses, knowing what to say, or how to act as a business, can feel confusing right now. 3D touches many industries affected by COVID-19, which opens up clear challenges for us all.
However, since 3D software and production is (at best) a side note in the health and economic issues people are worried about right now, Liaison is advising its clients to be very strategic about what they say and when they say it. To help them make decisions, we assembled a few best practices to consider as they craft external messaging during this time.
We have decided to share these tips with you as well, in case you interact with 3D and are unsure of where to go next.
TIP 1: DON’T SAY ANYTHING UNLESS YOU NEED TO
We are in the middle of a black swan event, and when things are life-changing, our natural tendency as humans is to talk about it. In this industry, we’d be very wary about doing that. The risks will usually far outweigh the rewards.
Here are a few good reasons to make a statement:
- Your customers/clients need reassurance about service or stability
- You are making a contribution to the fight against COVID-19 (e.g. initiative, money, project)
- You have data or information that will help people stay afloat or feel better
- Something bad happened and you need to be open about it
Here are some bad reasons to make a statement:
- Other companies are doing it
- You have opinions
- You want to vent
- You see a way to tangentially align yourself with COVID-19
In terms of press, COVID-19 “opportunities” should be assessed on a case-by-case basis. There will be plenty of stories about how COVID-19 is affecting your industries and maybe even your employees. Participating in these features should come down to an honest cost-benefit analysis that gets into the risks and advantages of each opportunity. Initially, we believe that the risks will be more heightened in the coming months, though we’ll have to see if that bears out as time goes on.
TIP 2: DON’T BE BRAZEN
In dire times, the last thing people want to see is companies exploiting the situation. This doesn’t mean you should stop acting like a business. Normalcy is important too. That said, start running everything you say around COVID-19 through a “How will this come off?” filter.
If you look like a predator now, the stench will be hard to shake. People are already wary of all the companies trying to insert themselves into the current discussion. Most never consider if they belong there in the first place. Don’t be like them.
TIP 3: BE COMMUNAL
This is going to be hard on everyone, which means that people will remember who helped them during the crisis. Companies that show up for their communities will be rewarded. So if you are going to speak, be of service. Empathy is always a good path, but consider that one of the biggest opportunities right now is giving all those people who are home and afraid something they can use or enjoy. There’s a wellspring of community-based initiatives and ideas that can bloom out of this moment. And each of these can be discussed across the life of this crisis. They just have to be valuable to the people who need them most.
TIP 4: BIG MESSAGES SHOULD COME FROM LEADERSHIP
If you are going to talk about the health of your company or how COVID-19 is changing the industry, that needs to come from an executive. Most likely, your CEO or President, unless the story is about a specific part of the business another executive specializes in.
TIP 5: DON’T GIVE MEDICAL ADVICE
Leave it to the experts.
TIP 6: BE AVAILABLE
Your community might need a lot of reassurance right now. Make sure your customer service and social wings are ready to be compassionate in public. Creating a doc of common discussion points and how to answer them is wise right now.
Note: It’s also important to have internal discussions about what your customers’/clients’ biggest concerns will be in the next 6-12 months, and how/if you factor into them. Outlining how you will help them alleviate those concerns is key. People like a path.
TIP 7: HAVE MESSAGES IN PLACES FOR IF THINGS GO WRONG
It’s likely that even if your employees get sick, the press aren’t going to ask you for statements. They’ll save that for the Walmarts and Amazons of the world. But it never hurts to be prepared.
Our recommendation is to have statements drafted around internal policies (employee safety, paid sick leave) and maybe even employee deaths, so if the worst comes to pass, you already have a place to start.
Also, if you aren’t letting everyone work from home right now, draft a statement outlining why not and what you are doing to protect people onsite.
Our social team has also prepared a set of general guidelines to follow during this crisis. Note: These might need to be updated as time goes on, so pay attention to the news and always read the room.
- Regular posts are advised. It’s important to maintain a sense of normalcy during this difficult time. This does not mean regular posts about COVID-19.
- If you’re helping, it’s ok to say so.
- Continue posting about company news, updates, and projects, but be extra-cautious that your posts do not come across as tone deaf.
- Share helpful resources that affect your community. People are scared/worried, so mix in some fun, positive posts that can help them feel better.
- DO NOT make this into a sales opportunity.
- DO NOT share medical advice.
Showing stability and thoughtfulness right now is the key to maintaining a positive public perception. The challenges are likely to change as time goes on, but if you remember that people crave consistency and compassion, you’ll always have a good foundation to work from.
Liaison has also decided to offer free advice to 3D companies during this time, so if you have questions on how to proceed, let us know.