Today, crisis management communications have become the most in-demand skill. Let’s look at the way different startups dealt with this issue last year, at the height of the global pandemic.

It’s all online

First things first, there were no strategic comms transformations: yes, offline went into deep hibernation, but it didn’t die. That being said, all companies wishing to sell goods or services had to actively master the internet, which became the focus of activity for people sheltered at home. During the pandemic, social media (76%) and online media (56%) became the leading communication channels.

This is especially important for primary interaction with clients: email newsletters continue to work, but in PandaDoc and Zoom’s experience, messenger apps have become much more effective.

Support and attention

A crisis is never a time to cut down on communication: the startups that “fall silent” at the first sign of difficulty are lost to their audience. However, it’s also vital to remember that communication during a crisis is not so much about sales as it is about enhancing user loyalty. An audience needs support and information for a brand to be held in a positive light.

Netflix pushed this theme even further, using its Instagram to launch and broadcast a weekly show called Wanna Talk About It? in April of 2020. The show was designed to help the platform’s users survive the lockdown. Together with experts, actors from Netflix movies and shows came together to advise viewers how to preserve their mental health, overcome stress, tackle insomnia, and deal with other pandemic-related difficulties.

In every one of its messages, EasyJet recommended that its customers stay at home and refrain from flights, even if they were still scheduled. The company shared a newsletter from its CEO, featuring information about the launch of the ‘Disruption Help Hub’, along with advice on how to obtain ticket refunds. The newsletter also showcased pilots and flight attendants volunteering at hospitals, and highlighted the airline’s donations of food and other goods to charity organizations.

Aegean Airlines focused on providing its clients with moral support and positive reinforcement. Its messages centered around the need for caution and why we should collectively care for each other, in addition to details of border openings and upcoming flight opportunities.

Personal offers

Personalized communication is especially important for startups that sell online. It’s not enough to simply open an online store; a company needs to make use of all communication channels, such as messengers, chat bots, and email newsletters. The key is to analyze the history of purchases and views, study your clients’ preferences, and create offers that seem personal to them.

For example, after gyms were closed, Nike embraced the new needs of its target audience through the Nike Training Club app. This offered users access to several training sessions free of charge, with an option to choose a personal training program for 4-6 weeks. The Nike blog also published nutrition recommendations. As a result, Nike’s online sales boomed: in the third quarter of 2020, they grew by 36%, and in the fourth, by another 75%. Inspired by these results, Nike’s management team decided to shoot for a 50% market share of online sales by 2023 compared with its previous plans of 30%. It should be noted that the company still reported lost profits on the back of shipping and returns costs, but that’s a different story.

More face-to-face communication

All around the world, one in four companies revised its budgets during the pandemic, reallocating funds to proprietary, personal communications channels (such as YouTube and blogs). Free webinars and live broadcasts became more frequent, as 40% of entrepreneurs chose to focus on online events. These online events were typically held on social media platforms, which was a logical move considering that customers had already stepped up their activities on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.

Going forward, it’s vital to remember that everyone is growing sick and tired of coronavirus – so it’s best to avoid this subject in future face-to-face broadcasts. Focus on any insights, advice, and news from your company and your industry – whatever may be useful to the audience. The recommended length of broadcasts is 30-40 minutes.

Fintech startup Transferwise, meanwhile, has been publishing more than just new product information on its website: at the start of the pandemic in March 2020, the startup shared a number of recommendations about the best ways for customers to protect themselves and their loved ones from coronavirus-related fraud. Users were urged to be especially careful when buying preventive care drugs; in their greed for quick money, fraudulent vendors or businesses may sell useless or even dangerous substances, or simply lie to customers before collecting their money and vanishing into thin air. Transferwise advised people to only buy medicine, dietary supplements, and protective gear from reliable pharmacies. The announcement also mentioned that the company provides its clients with secure money transfers, but the main emphasis was put on remaining vigilant when it came to online ads and purchases. The company also recounted the best-known cons related to coronavirus, such as fake offers of welfare benefit payments and tax breaks, and fundraisers for vaccine development.

Last year’s crisis offered valuable lessons to all businesses. And it wasn’t just a test of strength: it was a reminder of the importance of customer relationships, and why it’s vital to be in sync with your users.