It’s official – England is back in lockdown to tackle the rise in cases of COVID-19, closing all ‘non-essential’ businesses. For small and medium-sized businesses across the country, this is a stressful, nerve-wracking time – an echo of the first lockdown in the spring, when the future was uncertain and the high street was shuttered. For councils, businesses and decision makers alike, it’s time to do the counter-intuitive: it’s time to speak up.
After the first lockdown, Pillory Barn helped our clients – from city councils to property developers and small businesses – to get ahead of the game when it comes to messaging. Here are some of our top tips for taking charge of your communications strategy this autumn.
Be a reliable, useful source of information
Government guidance can often be difficult to parse – whether you’re keeping your employees or your customers in the loop, take charge of your response to COVID-19 and make it clear what you need from your audience. Update your policies and website, create new posters and floor stickers, revamp advertising – make your position clear.
Be prepared to re-open
With no clear end to the ‘new normal’ in sight, you should be prepared to quickly regain ground and get ahead of the next round of Government guidance. If and when lockdown is lifted in December, for example, it’s likely highstreets will be managing a rush of Christmas shoppers. By creating a ‘re-opening guide’ filled with skeleton content you can adapt to fit new government advice, react quickly, and share new policies with your clients, employees, customers or stakeholders. Use professional services to design and write your guides so that you’re ready to hit the ground running when the starting pistol is fired!
Keep your audience engaged, even if your doors are closed
You might not be trading right now, but your online audience is still out there! Focus on staying vocal and relevant – now is a great time to start filling up your social media pipeline, perhaps with a countdown to Christmas or promotions of online services or products you offer. If you have a blog or website, it’s also a great time to think about adding fresh content and new imagery, or doing a long-needed overhaul on the entire site.
Think of the future
2021 is just around the corner – if you’ve been thinking about refreshing your brand identity, now is the time to start planning for a new year launch. Whether it’s a fresh website, launching a YouTube channel, changing up your offering or diversifying, lockdown is a great time to take stock. Think of where you want your brand to go, and start preparing for whatever 2021 might throw your way with confidence and visible professionalism.
Finally, make sure your story is being heard this lockdown. Now is the time to build your reputation – are you a fabulous example of the entrepreneurial spirit? Are you helping your community with outreach, charity or employment schemes? The news media is hungry for feel-good and happy local stories, so invest in PR support if you have a story to tell. Pillory Barn offers support to businesses of every size and shape – find out more here. Stay ahead of the curve, stand tall, and speak up. We’ll meet again soon.