Don’t be a stranger – be smart with how you keep in touch with your teams, customers and communities

“Sorry, I’ve been on mute”, “Has someone just joined?”, “What’s that background noise?” If you are newly working from home as a result of COVID-19 distancing measures, you will be familiar with these video call catchphrases. The IBA team has been working ‘remotely together’ since mid-March and among the many things we’ve got used to in this time, background noises are just the tip of the iceberg – distractions can be anything from passing trains, barking dogs or Jamie’s cat (who likes to take center stage)!

Keeping in touch has never been so important both personally and for businesses. If the current crisis has not brought your teams and customers closer yet or made you more creative, here are some of our tips to get you started.

See, chat, laugh – real teamwork in the age of coronavirus

The first rule of keeping in touch is to keep conversation up with your co-workers – and not just through online ‘meetings’. Think about how many times a day you used to call out to one of your team members, canvas the room for opinions or exchange ideas over the watercooler or while the kettle boils.

Online tools such as GoToMeeting or Zoom offer easy video chatting options – use these to catch up with your close team once a day in the morning. Beyond keeping everyone honest and transparent on their daily tasks, these video meetings are a great way to bring face-to-face contact back into work – they are morale-boosting and will be especially fun once people start having to cut their own hair!

You can use chat functionalities for conversations that don’t warrant writing an email, or download Slack, where you can set up different chat rooms and group conversations. The systems you put in place today can have benefits for productivity, teamwork and collaboration long after the pandemic subsides!

If you’re not talking, you’ll never find the stories to engage the media, your customers and prospects

While many businesses have no doubt reduced marketing budgets or cancelled product launches, marketing and PR provide a vital medium to reach out to customers and future prospects. Finding ‘hooks’ and unearthing story potential are a large part of what communicators and marketing teams do. But it’s impossible to bring helpful stories to life if you’re not kept in the loop with positive customer developments.

At IBA, we have been strong advocates of business continuity and urge all businesses to think about the current situation strategically, find stories – from useful to helpful to heroic – and use more creativity to tell them.

You’ll never know if you don’t ask

If your customers are manufacturers or engineers, find out if they are helping healthcare providers or other frontline workers. If you work with FMCG businesses, how are they ensuring homes have access to food? Can enterprise software providers offer flexible planning & scheduling, remote assistance and supply chain management solutions to help businesses weather the storm? Are your customers providing remote portals for online problem resolution, are they offering free trials, free education?

It is worth noting that all of IBA’s clients are doing one of the above and we are helping them help others by showing how.

Why it’s important to keep these three business communities in the loop

  • Direct customers – they can provide valuable intel going forward. Since you already have a relationship with them, it should be easy to create regular dialogue here via calls and emails, and keep your fingers on the pulse. When the economy bounces back you will have a heightened awareness of customer pain points which will dramatically improve your marketing efforts.
  • Partners and prospects these are relationships for the future. For your wider business network, make your presence felt through useful content, social media and email – a blog, a newsletter and top-notch social posts can go a long way! Invite conversation, debate and mindshare.
  • Media and influencers – for that third-party endorsement. Finally, for the press and your influencer community, make sure you’re sending positive signals demonstrating you’re alive and well, and have industry experience which can be helpful to their readers.

Stay grounded, keep connected

Keeping in touch is both a human instinct and business imperative, so be helpful and smart with the way you nurture relationships with your key audiences.

If you want to learn more about simple ways to keep effective PR going in these testing times, read our blog on how to ensure business continuity, or drop us an email. You can also keep in touch with us on social – our @IBAPR & @iBAengage Twitter and IBA LinkedIn channels are fully geared towards bringing our audience useful stories, PR advice and a little cheer!

Reka Agopcsa is a PR Account Manager at IBA International.

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