Now is the period where everything seems uncertain and there is often a question of who or whom should be the spokesperson at this time—who should be putting out content, or whose name should appear on the frontline? Basically, who should be the one communicating during this time of crisis?
I’ve been getting a lot of questions from business owners about their hesitations. Normally, they would say along the lines of, “I’m nervous to be on camera. I don’t think I’m good on camera. I’m usually behind the scenes, do I need to be front and center? What do I need to be saying?”
So I wanted to give you some feedback as to what we’re seeing about communicating during this time of crisis. I’ll give you the logic behind it and some case studies of other businesses that are doing it right now.
The first answer to the question is my recommendation at this very moment in time is for the owner of the company regardless of anything, to be the main person that is putting out content at least weekly. Whether that’s a letter from the CEO or the owner, or basically any form of communication. Be it an email, a link to an audio recording, a physical letter, or a voicemail. This communication goes out at least once a week. There are a lot of different ways to communicate. But I will tell you that when a crisis hits of this magnitude, someone from the top normally should be the main spokesperson.
And what I’ve been seeing from a communication standpoint is a lot of owners of companies (or they could be CEO or managers), coming out of the woodworks and delivering messages of hope. They’ve been delivering messages of their plans. Telling their valued clients and customers “Here’s where things are at right now, here’s what we’re seeing. Here’s how we’re going to continue to help you—our customers.” It’s always best when a crisis hits again, that the person that is at the top of the ladder is the one communicating and sending these messages.
Now, the only time that I would pivot that suggestion is if there was an “and” statement in there. I definitely want whoever is in charge and most likely, that’s probably you listening. It’s probably your business because owners of small or local businesses largely listen to this. However, the end piece can take a couple of different directions.
So the first direction is if there is someone else that is respected and known on social media, for example, that particular person should also be communicating on a regular basis. But, that person should never be overshadowing whatever the owner and/or CEO or president or founder may be communicating.
So there is that person who ranks the highest who is communicating, plus, there’s also a familiar face (if there is one) that’s also communicating. And we’ve been finding that there’s a lot of goodwill that’s been created in the past. It kind of was saved up and is now being cashed out, so to speak. What we’re definitely finding again, is that more and more people are coming online on social media platforms. Additionally, the more you’re communicating, the more responses you’re getting. For example, interactions, and all of that good stuff.
The other piece to “and” is a second person communicating. The second one would be, if there’s someone on social, or someone that’s putting out a lot of YouTube videos, for example, that particular person or people could also be doing content. But again, they want to make sure that they’re not overshadowed. My recommendation would be to have them post on a different day than when the CEO’s message comes out. This helps avoid no confusion.
And then the final set of people is if you have a service business. I want those people ideally, to shoot a short video with their iPhone, email the video over to you, and then have you start to get that out on your website. Get it out on social media, get that stuff out—pretty much all over the place. You’ve got a childcare center, get all the teachers there. If you’ve got a bank or credit union, let all the friendly tellers do a short little video. For example, they can say “Hey, we miss you. We can’t wait to see you.”
And then depending on the situation, you’re in, they can say in the video, “Hey, don’t forget, we’re open. It’s just the drive-thru. But I’d love to wave at you as you pass by the window.”
So, if you have a service business, whether you’re virtual or not, I want you to have those frontline people. You’re doing the landscaping, how the people that are actually out there, each and every day do a fun little video. The more raw the video, the better. Even if it’s at their house. Even better, everyone is at their house. No one is caring that there are babies crying in the background, or their house doesn’t look like it’s flawless, or the lighting is not optimal, or you don’t have enough makeup on. No one is really paying attention to that stuff right now. It used to be like, “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe that! He or she doesn’t have makeup on!”
Now, I’m seeing celebrities, singers, and influencers that are just doing impromptu concerts in their living rooms and they don’t care about the lighting or what they look like when they normally always would. It’s almost like the great equalizer.
Those videos, I promise you, are also going to be very well received—almost more well-received than what the CEOs or owners would make. However, your content is also valuable. And the reason I want you to put something like that is more of a policy and procedure. And it’s just more of something to just kind of keep things accountable. So yours might be just a little bit more of a leadership type of video, whereas the frontline videos are meant to be more fun, more upbeat, more, we miss you—more personalized. Those are the kind of videos that we’re looking for.
Let me give you a simple example about communicating during this time of crisis before we wrap this up for the day.
My children’s school—like I believe every school in the US is closed and the principal has been putting out content. So, in a school, it’s either the principal and then if you want to go a little bit higher, it’s the superintendent of schools or the district. Those are kind of the two owners and I know this isn’t a local business example, but I think it’s a fun one.
The superintendent, as well as the principal, has been putting out regular communications, which means that content is coming out from the top. And while that content is fine, and it’s informative, candidly speaking, the kids really don’t care.
They’re more interested in their teachers. So yesterday afternoon, the teachers—there were about 50 or a hundred of them. What they did was, they did a car parade—their cars were decorated. They were waving out the window and even had a police escort, and the kids absolutely loved it. They had so much fun seeing their teachers waving at them—the look of glee on their faces (parents included).
It’s that front line, the people that you know, like and trust give you that reassurance that everything is going to be okay. And my listeners, I really do believe that we will again, come out on top. Have a great rest of your day. And I look forward to seeing you back here tomorrow.
Get out there, make a change, and take some action.