Crisis • Media Relations • Digital • Social Marketing • Latino
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Many of our friends in the communications business, and our high-caliber clients, have done an incredible job in sharing best practices for dealing with the extraordinary events brought about by this new coronavirus in the past 10 days. It’s all sound and important advice for dealing with the immediate, often drastic transitions required to maintain operational functions.

It’s gratifying that several of our clients view us as part of their business continuity planning, rather than just the folks they call when they experience reputational problems. We’re much better off being included from the start, rather than as an after-thought.

While there is still little clarity on what business life looks like in a week or a month, one critical step we haven’t often seen discussed is: keep a record of how you’re managing this situation, and what you do moving forward.

“Never let a serious crisis go to waste.”

A core component of every crisis plan we have developed through the years is the after-action evaluation. Normal business functions have been restored. Great. But what did we learn? How did we substantially adapt our processes? Which, if any, of those adaptations should become part of the new norm? Were we behind in our preparedness and response, and why? Were we negatively impacted by reacting too quickly? (Hint: probably not) Did we base our decisions on the right indicators, and if not, what were the better indicators? If another crisis, even one localized to just our organization, were to happen to us in three years, what knowledge would we apply from this experience?

We will all be investing a great deal of mental energy in problem-solving, assessing, and pivoting in the days and weeks to come to respond to an evolving global crisis. When the tide turns we’ll be doing all of those same things, but with a focus of ramping up as quickly and effectively as possible. Be honest: how clearly will you and your team be able to recall when, how, and why your protocols worked and failed?

This doesn’t need to be arduous, but a log needs to be created. Even the following type of entry would suffice:

We’ll be reminding you about this when the curve eventually flattens and the situation improves. It may turn out to be one of the most valuable exercises you’ll have done for your crisis planning and management in the future.

Make Time for Interaction

We don’t have a watercooler, but our team still enjoys watercooler conversations. It’s these brief breaks of personal conversation that help a team dynamic. Of course these can also suffer when offices are empty and staff is isolated in their homes. We’ve been utilizing Google Hangouts (free with Google accounts) to create face-to-face interactions, be those team meetings, or just checking in with each other. Paid services like Zoom work too. We’ve also found the prospect of appearing on camera rather than solely talking by phone is great motivation to get dressed, freshen up and maintain some semblance of a normal work routine, which is also helpful.

Look for opportunities in the calendar for your team to virtually hang out together and talk about how they’re doing, and what they’ve found helpful in coping with the circumstances.

A Time for Strategy

This past week has largely been an act of crisis management for most of us. Maintaining service levels will continue to be the ultimate priority, but that also may leave many members of your team with a significant reduction in daily tasks. Engage them by encouraging the strategic thinking that we all often wish we had time to do.

  • What opportunities do we have to connect with our audiences digitally? If we’re all going to be cooped up for a few weeks, can we deliver some helpful ways to pass the time? (Live streams, an open Slack chat, webinars, a video series)
  • How can we be of assistance to our audiences once we start to emerge from this global event?
  • If we’ve made a lot of changes to our policies and operations as a result of this pandemic, what should our timeline and thinking be to reinstate normal conditions? Or, are some of the changes actually worth looking at longer term for streamlining operations?
  • What have we talked about doing at previous retreats or planning sessions that never made progress? Can we start moving forward on some of those?
  • What lessons can we learn from our clients, partners, and audiences who’ve found new ways to cope?

As we all look for ways to stay digitally connected, keep our productive juices flowing and create new opportunities out of the void we want you to know you have our best thoughts coming your way. If you’d like to share ideas just give us a call. We are strong and prepared in a crisis.

May your VPN be with you.

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