Posted on: June 15, 2020
As the coronavirus spreads throughout the world, we are entering uncharted waters. From President Trump’s declaration of a national emergency to the canceling of professional sports, what the World Health Organization has named a “pandemic” is affecting every aspect of American life. And it’s taking a toll on the general public.
I know that for me, an extrovert among extroverts, I am finding it hard to work at home alone without looking forward to my normal, almost-daily networking events. In a way, however, this time is forcing me to slow down, organize my home office and go deep to think about the way I’d like the working world to look when things return to the “new normal.”
As the head of a PR agency, I’ve seen coronavirus-induced anxiety and stress firsthand from the business community, the media and my clients, some of whom have decided to suspend their contracts with us. This is troubling because PR is not the kind of practice that can be easily stopped and restarted.
My employees are also definitely worried since it’s an unprecedented situation. And that’s natural. There are steps that employers and employees alike can take to tackle this problem, just like they tackle business-related issues on a daily basis. We are by nature problem-solvers, and we should apply that same thinking to the coronavirus.
We are embracing teleworking. Technology has opened a lot of doors for us. Like many offices, we are all working from home, and have initiated frequent check-ins via Zoom and personal phone calls. Our check-ins often include four or five team members. The key for us is 24/7 communication so all of our team members stay on the same page and nothing falls through the cracks. In addition to our “formal” meetings, I am also sending informal check-in messages to my employees just to make sure they know I care about them.
These days, I am also recording my podcast remotely outdoors. Part of my brand is promoting outdoor recreation, so I thought it was a perfect time to take my podcast recording sessions out of the studio and into the great outdoors. Honestly, it’s better than being cooped up inside. We need to look at the bright side.
My philosophy in business (and in life) is to build a brand and network through multiple channels — online and in person. Even though our in-person connections are now severely limited, you can still create and cultivate those connections with a personal touch. Write a personal letter and send it in the mail. A letter is an enduring way to show that person, whether it’s an employee or a client, that you care about them. I’ve been sending handwritten notes to many of my personal and professional contacts, just to reach out and keep those connections strong.
Now’s the time to build that habit! Who knows, you may even be able to build stronger connections “the old-fashioned way” than with emails or phone calls. Ever since I was a girl growing up with pen pals around the world, I have always loved sending and receiving letters.
Social distancing is all the rage now, and for good reason — we need to “flatten the curve” and contain the spread of the coronavirus. However, that doesn’t mean that there’s not an opportunity to strengthen relationships in other ways.
People are going to be at home and spending more time online. So, there’s a definite opportunity to fill the vacuum and strengthen connections with informative and entertaining podcasts, social media posts and, perhaps, more importantly, heartfelt notes and letters sent in the mail to employees’ and clients’ home addresses.
Believe me, this is a period of uncertainty and anxiety for all of us. However, it’s a time when we, as professional communicators, can use our skills to connect and reassure those we do business with that we are here for them, that we care about them and that we look forward to spending time face to face when things get back to the “new normal.”
This article originally appeared on the Forbes Agency Council CommunityVoice in April 2020.
Categories: Public Relations