Keep Your Reputation Safe During COVID-19

April 6, 2020


Hi, everyone. Crayton Webb with Sunwest Communications with a couple minutes of advice around reputation today. I’m sheltering in place and as we work from home, we’re all probably inundated with emails, communications from organizations that want our business, vendors, employers. And as we’ve been getting these communications, a few important points about reputation and communications has come to mind.

First, the story of a local chamber of commerce that right now is trying to negotiate between a bride who had to cancel her wedding, unfortunately, because of COVID-19, and a venue operator. The venue operator is insisting on keeping the deposit and following the rules that were in place when the booking was made prior to the coronavirus. I don’t know, is the juice worth the squeeze? Is that reputation of the venue owner going to be in place afterwards? Something to really think about as you communicate your policies for refunds, the customers you have now or customers presumably you want after the crisis passes. And I know many people are worried about even having their doors open after this crisis,

SLIDE 1: Be Understanding to Customers

but definitely think about the long game and how you keep those customers later.

Second story, an employer having unfortunately to lay off employees and cut bonuses while simultaneously thinking about announcing a philanthropic gift to a local charitable organization – in fact, several of them. Our advice has been to really think about the timing there. Is that the message you want to send to your valued employees, who presumably you hope to keep through the crisis and certainly afterwards keep their loyalty. The message certainly inadvertently could be, “We’re taking money out of your pocket in order to give it to somebody else.” Granted, giving back is important. CSR is essential.

SLIDE 2: Time Your Philanthropic Messaging Wisely

But consider donating to organizations that might benefit your employees or might benefit the employees of your customers. And certainly think about the timing of your messages. If you’re having to lay off folks, if you can hold off on the announcement about your philanthropic gifts, it might be a good idea.

Finally, of course, a lot of those emails are from vendors – businesses who are going to do very well in this crisis. There are those out there. Sometimes it feels like the sharks swarming as you look through all your email. So if you’re one of those organizations that is doing well and this is an opportunity from your perspective to leverage your communications around coronavirus, we just advise extreme caution. You just don’t want your viewers, your readers to feel like you’re being opportunistic.

SLIDE 3: Communicate with Care

So our advice as you communicate your point of differentiation during COVID-19 is to be very gentle and to be first thinking about the well-being of your most important stakeholders, your customers, your employees. They know who you are. They know what you do. Now might be the time for the soft sell and how you communicate that, because remember, after recovery or when recovery occurs – and God willing, that will be sooner than later – your reputation either will be intact or it won’t. And that’s Two Minutes of Advice today, a little bit more, from Sunwest Communications. We hope you are all well and staying well and safe. All the best.