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Steve Isenberg

A Business-with-Compassion Response to the Coronavirus Pandemic

Posted on: March 24, 2020

By: Steve Isenberg


“Remember, despite all the current events, there is no crying in baseball.”

— Actor Tom Hanks, recovering from coronavirus in Australia

Despite what feels like a near shutdown to life as we know it, we must press on in both our personal and business lives.

First, and foremost, on our minds is the health and safety of our families, our employees, and our clients.

Woven through the ‘people’ concerns are very critical questions about the companies that provide our livelihood. How will they weather a crisis of this proportion, whose waves of disruption are reverberating around the world?

With so much uncertainty swirling about, the only sure bet at this point is that the Coronavirus outbreak will affect all sizes and types of businesses and organizations. No one will be immune to its impact.

“The situation is fluid, and it’s not possible to know with certainty what the situation will look like in a month or six months,”

—notes Julie Ogilvie, VP, Principal Analyst at Forrester.

Now’s the time for marketing and comms teams to step into a leading role to navigate the choppy waters ahead for businesses across every industry. Ogilvie suggests the first specific task to undertake is the creation of a task force. 

“Bring together functional leaders from across your organization to begin identifying and prioritizing issues, with all major functions and regions represented.”

Their first task: Establish a crisis communications plan.

The second step: Move forward with a strategy to continue getting your message out there in an appropriately sensitive and thoughtful manner.

Neil Patel offers a word of caution. “The first thing we are seeing is people trying to exploit fear. I highly recommend that you avoid exploiting the Coronavirus situation to make a quick buck.” In addition to being short-sighted, such schemes are just wrong. Look beyond what might masquerade as a quick buck to a more long-term approach that respects the critical nature of the situation.

Focus on the three “P’s” of COVID-19 Business with Compassion

Be Present: While citizens are being called on to “hunker down” in their homes, now is not the time for your business to fade quietly into the background while leadership waits to see how the scenario plays out. Your staffing clients and candidates need to hear from you. So, make a statement expressing genuine concern and empathy for those suffering from and impacted by the outbreak. Assure both sides of the hiring table that your team stands ready and willing to continue meeting their staffing needs.

Be Positive: Do not approach the crisis with a doomsday attitude. Instead, foster a “We’ll get through this together!” spirit. Find a middle ground that neither minimizes the situation nor incites panic. Commit to referencing only those leading authorities such as the CDC, WHO, and local public health agencies, and follow that example by using those sources to guide the company’s decisions in the days and weeks to come.

Be Proactive: In what ways can your organization positively impact both clients and candidates? How can you reach out to the community? In what ways can your organization be a beacon of hope and light in these uncertain times? Present these questions to the earlier referenced task force and encourage them to take a break from negotiating around the negative implications to focus on a how-can-we-help brainstorming session.

Then, it’s on to the restructuring of marketing strategies considering current events. When it comes to marketing methods, platforms, and budgets, it’s time to peel away the cozy confines of the “box” from pre-pandemic times and branch into new territory.

“Amid the fear of attending and sponsoring large events, marketers are turning to content marketing delivered directly to subscribers online to stay engaged with their customers,” shares Shohei Fukano on NewsCred Insights. “Content marketing has evolved from being just blog posts and editorial strategies. It’s a holistic approach that relies on a broad range of digital marketing strategies tactics such as email, social media, SEO, and paid media to continue engagement with customers.”

Events and conferences have already taken a significant hit, and who knows how long “social distancing” will be the directive. But with today’s technology, connecting with clients and customers via streaming or podcasts has never been easier. Think daily or weekly updates on job openings and staffing scenarios concerning various industries. Shift to hosting a virtual job fair in place of the large-gathering function planned for later this spring.

Digital marketing avenues offer many opportunities to maintain contact with and continue building relationships with current and potential job candidates. With fewer places to go coupled with the desire to remain updated on the outbreak, folks are glued to their devices.

Why not give them a positive, uplifting, and helpful focus?

Ogilvie concludes, “Companies that respond to the current crisis with transparency and compassion will be rewarded by audiences. Companies that fail to rise to the occasion or are late to respond may create uncertainty or damage the confidence they have built. Moreover, use this as an opportunity to flesh out a complete crisis response plan so that the next time the unexpected comes along, you will be ready.

Whatever the future holds, ASJ Partners stands firm in its commitment to provide comprehensive, customizable marketing strategies to the staffing industry. Let our vast experience and expert teams guide your firm’s way through the uncertain days ahead for the U.S. job market. Prepare for the future now by partnering with ASJ today.

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