The best time for companies and their top executives to shine is during a crisis such as today's coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, according to a communication expert.
"The best time to shine is during the bad times…so you project the best of you in the worst times. You don’t look as good as in the good times," said Dan Villa, chairman of advertising agency CreatiVilla.
"When there is a crisis, there are tons of opportunities to communicate and shine. It is a matter of positioning and timing. The seemingly situational disadvantage is gems of advantages when properly handled," said Villa, a former chairman of the Advertising Board of the Philippines and the Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies-Philippines.
Villa made the remarks amid the Luzon-wide lockdown designed by the government to contain the spread of Covid-19 and as the private sector is encouraged to help augment public sector support for low-income workers and families who lost their source of income during the lockdown.
Villa said business organizations should also review their internal and external approaches to reach out to the public. “Amid these trying times, we need to be utmost resilient. When social distancing is mandatory, communications should be bridgeable for both the internal and external communications. From the mandatory impasse to passable: ‘work from home’ is the new norm,” he said.
He said it is important for companies, including those whose operations were disrupted by the quarantine period, to project a sense of continuity to remain in public consciousness. “Continuity is the name of the game. Be sure that the company maintains the core functions and operations by keeping the constant communications with the employees. Be on top of the situation,” he said.
Villa said within the organization, internal communications should be reinforced. “Utilization of internal measures to bridge the communication gap is a must. New operational measures should be clearest to assure preparedness in coordination with the rest of the important departments. All these could be done through emails, viber app, FB messenger and short messaging,” he said.
He said that for external communication, executives should keep themselves updated with the latest developments in the country. “Keeping abreast is the best. Communicate with your external public such as government, the business community and the general public with both traditional and online media on what the company is doing to assure continuity of the business, despite the crisis. Adapt a quick response team to address inquiries, clarifications and other concerns regarding relevant matters during the crisis,” he said.
Villa said there are available creative tools to implement these communications, both traditionally and digitally.
“Keep your image afloat despite the apparent pulling-you-down, drowning situational descent. Show that you are in control. Show them that you can stand out,” he said.
Villa said despite the serious challenges in the present condition, flexibility is the employer’s best tool to ensure that their staff is healthy and secure. As contamination is less when social distancing is employed, they can allow home works and flexibility to assure social distancing and minimize risks, he said.
“Have a fresh view on diversity by utilizing multiple approaches to keep pace with the crisis. Keep the operations simple in these complex times. Also consider outsourcing special needs and requirements to communicate this new information both internally and externally. But the best wealth is still your workers as you keep them safe and secure,” he said.
Villa said for business organizations, it is best to let the public know how they take care of their employees and their customers. “Continuous updates and new information on how the company copes with this Covid-19 puts the company’s best foot forward. And the best way to project this image is when there is a crisis… and not when there is none. This is the essence of public relations,” he said.
He said among the communication tools that companies can employ are publicity materials, editorial feeds, news and feature releases as well as media/networking relations.
“In sum you need a well-thought off communications plan to reach out to your various audiences using the right tools available within the limits of company resources,” he said.
Villa said that as a company works for the benefit of its employees and consumers, this message needs to be relayed to the public at large.
“If you’re doing good as a corporation, you just don’t tap your back. The public should know. And when you’re doing badly, the more you need communications make-over. There are numerous ways to utilize these myriad of communication strategies—timed and phased perfectly for the good image you deserve,” he said.