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Communication for the new normal

Tue Nov 03 2020

Bridging the social distancing gap

Throughout 2020, social distancing has meant that businesses of the “new normal” are required to operate remotely; offering products and services digitally, pitching for business virtually, collaborating with colleagues online and managing employees working from home.

We all know the age-old adage “communication is king”, but never before has this rung truer than now. The key to running a successful enterprise remotely and digitally is communication. It is the linchpin for your entire business operations.

So, how do we bridge the gap and communicate effectively in the new normal?

Communicating with customers (B2C)

Businesses can no longer rely on face-to-face customer service, the physical shop window or hardcopy advertising and marketing materials. As such, an increased number of organisations are turning to digital communications, which means an increased number of voices competing for attention online.

How are you going to ensure your messages cut through the noise and are listened to by your audience? By taking a customer-centric approach and adjusting your tone of voice, brand identity and communications strategy accordingly. Embarking on a new digital communications strategy provides the opportunity to refocus your messaging. Ask yourself:

· Who are you communicating with? Your customers.

· How do they consume information? Digital platforms.

· Why should they listen to what you have to say? Your USP and how your product fulfils their need.

· How will you grab their attention and inspire them to engage? The strength and integrity of your brand voice and identity.

Communicating with clients (B2B)

Increased distance requires a greater degree of commitment to your clients. Undoubtedly, face-to-face conversations, networking and pitches provide the greatest opportunity for developing client relationships and influencing decision making. However, these opportunities are also there for the taking in the digital realm – they simply require a greater investment of time and energy.

First things first, do your research. Similarly to the above, understanding your client – their history, values, pain points, ambitions – will enable you to (re)align your services and your brand in order to be seen as a viable and valuable business partner.

Further, for both clients and customers, corporate social responsibility (CSR) is becoming an increasingly important factor in buying decisions and brand loyalty. For small businesses in particular and during times of economic uncertainty (such as now), your CSR strategy may just be the one thing that differentiates your business in a crowded market. So, ask yourself, how does your business support the community and environment in which it operates? And then shout about it.

Communicating with employees

To use another old adage, these are uncertain – and yes, unprecedented – times. While the “new normal” heralds the arrival of exciting, new opportunities, it can also be an unnerving time for employees.

Employees seek clarity above all else, so drop the corporate comms and keep messaging clear, open, honest and human. The frequency and regularity of your internal communications is also essential as leaving employees feeling adrift can heighten anxiety and be detrimental to job satisfaction and engagement.

Speaking of which, engage your people – and I’m not necessarily talking about Zoom quiz nights or book at bedtime readings, although these opportunities for spending quality, social time together are well worth pursuing. Rather, engage your people in conversations about the challenges the business faces now and your aspirations for its future. Your employees are your most valuable resource (I’ve raved about this in numerous blogs before), use them; they are brimming with innovative ideas and creative solutions.

And finally…

Communicating with the press and media

For the most part, principles for communicating with the press and media remains unchanged for the “new normal” – that is, relevance is of paramount importance; press releases and story pitches should be timely and relevant to the publication and its readers.

However, more than ever before, the press and audiences are seeking stories that focus on humanity; local stories about local people. When pitching stories, it is essential to be authentic and to show there is a person behind the business. Indeed, highlighting your availability to the press as a spokesperson is another way in which you can stand out and convey your personality. Ensure you advertise that you as the CEO/Director/Founder are available on Skype, Zoom or other video platforms for interview or comment – not only for stories relating to your business but issues affecting the wider business and local community.

While the “new normal” may be digitalised and remote, never before has human connection, understanding and authenticity been more important – and an effective communications strategy is essential to achieving this. MENTA offers 1-2-1 coaching and bespoke training for businesses looking to develop skills relating to digital communications and much more! Click here to find out more.

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