You’re Spring Cleaning, I’m Spring Cleaning, Everyone’s Spring Cleaning.
April 23, 2020
Spring is in the air. Farmers markets are bustling, baseball is in full swing and the parks are filled with crowds of people happy to see the sun for the first time in months. Wait…hold that thought. Never mind. For a moment there I forgot our present reality—that the coronavirus pandemic has brought all of our bright and sunny plans for spring to a screeching halt. Still, while this may not be the spring we hoped for, quarantine life has its upsides at home, and at work (from home).
For one, 2020 will undoubtably become the most productive spring cleaning season in history. My social media feed is filled with photos and stories of home refreshes and cleaning projects that have lived at the bottom of to-do lists for months or years. Every day on my evening walks, I see neighbors detailing cars and hauling boxes of junk into the alleys. Shelves are dusted. Books are neatly sorted and stacked. Refrigerators are cleaner. Closets are organized to insta-worthy perfection.
I’ve been quick to jump on this bandwagon. With the help of my resident child laborers, I tackled the long overdue exterior washing and polishing of my home’s 20-plus windows and screens. The work was tedious, but oh so rewarding. My windows haven’t sparkled like this in years. Soon, I’ll oil the wood patio table, cull old clothes and hand shine the chandelier.
All of this spring cleaning got our team thinking about the housework our clients should be doing for their businesses and communications plans—as a general best practice, and if they are experiencing lulls due to COVID-19 shutdowns. The list is full of activities often pushed to the wayside for time-sensitive deadlines and higher priority work. Below are a few ideas to get you started.
- Dust off your crisis plan. Yes, this pandemic is a crisis on overdrive, and something that few would have predicted or prepared for. Nevertheless, it is serving as a glaring reminder of how quickly things can be flipped upside down—and how much more smoothly things can go when we’re prepared, versus when we’re caught completely off guard. Update your crisis plans to ensure they include current messaging, contacts and chains of command, and add any lessons learned from our current situation thus far.
- Reorder and organize all the lists. Use this time to comb through your media, influencer, analyst, conferences and awards lists, and bring them up to date. Now might not be the right time to reach out and work on relationships with the contacts on these lists, but it is an opportunity to bolster your databases with better research and information about top targets, industry experts and influencers. That way, you’ll be in a stronger position to create and nurture key relationships when things start to calm down.
- Help your spokespeople shine. The current climate is making coverage harder to come by than usual. If your spokespeople aren’t getting enough interview time with the media right now, take it as an opportunity to refine their skills. Set up a media training 101 or refresher. Get some one-on-one time booked to help company representatives practice interview techniques, fine tune key messages and sharpen responses to “rude qs”.
- Do some light remodeling. Chances are you had a big tradeshow or company event that has been cancelled, postponed indefinitely or moved to a virtual event. Maybe a major product launch has been delayed due to the impacts of remote work or stalled recruitment. Or, that research project you’ve invested in can’t compete in the current news cycle. Whatever the disruption, it’s likely time for scenario planning. Your contingency plans should cover multiple possible outcomes for PR, marketing and communications activities now through the coming six to 12 months.
- Clean up the messaging. As a general rule, comms teams should revisit company messaging regularly. For high growth, high tech companies, messaging is often a continual work in progress. While this is necessary to keep pace with a fast moving business, it can also result in inconsistent, disjointed messaging. Spend some (virtual) time with your stakeholders this season to filter the good from the bad, clean out the jargon and get your key messages in ship shape.
We can all agree that 2020 is not off to a promising start. This spring, let’s try to remember, the birds are still singing, the trees are in bloom and April showers are falling. May flowers are around the corner. Keep your head up. Find the silver linings where you can. And get your house in order.
– Ashley Allman, Director of Content