Using content marketing effectively to create value in times of uncertainty

The ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic has created unprecedented health and financial crises that seem to have turned every aspect of life on its head.

Most companies need to find a way to continue operating in the face of adversity. This means ensuring their marketing campaigns continue to add value by hitting target audiences with compelling content.

Business-as-usual in an unusual time

With so many companies moving rapidly to adjust how they operate, now is the time to demonstrate that you are still open for business where possible. This is an opportunity to show your clients and any prospective customers that you can assist them with their needs.

This is an opportunity to create value for clients and prospects now that may lead to more business later. Effective content marketing in this current climate can potentially spark more sales opportunities when the demand returns.

Your customers are likely still grappling with the same challenges they faced before the COVID-19 crisis, as well as crisis-specific issues that you may be able to help them with. Providing content that genuinely helps them deal with these issues is incredibly valuable. It can help develop strong relationships with decision-makers who will then be more likely to come to you when they are ready to buy.

Generate new connections

Operating under these strained circumstances has meant that many organisations have become aware of gaps in their capabilities, technology, operating processes, and more. They’re asking questions they’ve never had to ask before, exploring solutions they’ve never considered before, and trying to get up to speed with concepts they’ve never examined before. This creates an exceptional opportunity to step into the gap with useful, valuable, calm, pragmatic advice that genuinely helps these organisations pivot successfully to a new way of working.

In many cases, these companies may not have been on your marketing radar before. You have a unique opportunity to educate decision-makers at these organisations and develop strong and lasting relationships that will continue to deliver mutual value into the future.

Create a content hub

You should be creating new and highly-targeted content to reach these new audiences. And, don’t underestimate the value of content you’ve created in the past. You should review your content bank for material that can be updated and refreshed, then rereleased to a whole new readership.

Creating and sharing a wealth of new content will likely see more visitors heading towards your website as they look for more information. It’s essential that you don’t confuse readers with a complicated web of stories they need to sift through to find what they need.

Creating a searchable information hub is a great way to collect all your content and updates and present it to clients and prospects in an easily digestible manner. If you’re churning out updates on your response to COVID-19 as well as key product changes for clients, keep these separate. Make sure you house your coronavirus content on a dedicated webpage away from your regular news and updates.

Think ahead

Generating content that is relevant to COVID-19 and peripheral issues isn’t the only opportunity for you to strengthen your marketing program. Now is the time to look at your overall marketing strategies and look long-term to develop high-value content for the road ahead.

For example, this is an ideal time to develop whitepapers and supporting materials for the other side of COVID-19. Think about what your clients will need at the end of this crisis to maximise their business success. Consider what you’ve learned as a business throughout this experience that you can use to provide better service and expertise for your clients.

Use this as a basis to develop high-value content assets, then build campaigns around these to help generate demand. This is a chance to really build on your content marketing foundation and really understand your audience for the future.

Consider media relations

Right now, the news is focused on COVID-19 and related stories. News outlets are hungry for content that satisfies the public’s desire for information. This means they’re looking for stories that offer a different angle, useful advice, or a new perspective.

This could provide an opportunity for your company to act as a thought leader. If you are interested in providing commentary on trending topics, first consider these five key questions:

  1. Is this relevant to my business?
  2. Am I a credible source of information for the audience?
  3. Am I an authority on this topic?
  4. Do I have new information to add to the conversation?
  5. Is it appropriate to provide comment on this issue?

If the answer is yes, then it’s important to develop a media strategy that will get cut through with the relevant journalists. You may need to work with an expert in media relations to ensure you’re targeting the right journalists and putting together a story that will work for them.

What to do next

Content marketing already plays a key role in business and this is especially true in such an unusual time. We don’t yet know when the global pandemic will end, nor when the repercussions will start to recede, and it will take some time for many to come to terms with the changing world.

We all need to adapt and find new ways to engage our customers. Creating content is a powerful way to demonstrate to your clients that you can support them through this situation and will be there to meet them on the other side.

We have managed highly successful content marketing programs for our clients for decades, and we now how to generate strong results. To find out how we can help your business expand or develop a content marketing strategy that will cut through the noise in today’s environment, contact us today.

How social media can keep your brand relevant during times of uncertainty

The coronavirus, or COVID-19, has created uncertainty and confusion for many businesses. While some have been forced to shut altogether, others can continue operating exclusively online, while still others are deemed essential and are still operating as normal, albeit with increased hygiene measures in place.

In most cases, there’s not much brands can do apart from ride out the storm. However, the way you respond to this crisis and communicate with your customers could determine your future success once the pandemic is over.

People are looking for answers on how to stay safe, how businesses are responding to COVID-19, and whether the products or services they want can still be purchased or delivered. They are wondering how businesses will continue via alternative methods such as online shopping.

To address these concerns and stay relevant in their customers’ eyes, businesses need to develop a thorough and regular communication plan for all stakeholders. With people mostly confined to their homes, social media is the ideal platform for this.

If you’re managing the social media for your organisation, here’s what you should consider:

Stay sensitive and relevant

Brands need to actively address the COVID-19 situation while balancing out this content with brand-specific content. You can’t stick to a content calendar that was developed before the pandemic hit; everything has changed. Brands must stay sensitive and relevant.

The content you share should include revised business hours and methods of operation, as well as content which provides a little fun and entertainment.

Quality is more important than quantity right now as no one wants to be bombarded with irrelevant content. Keep a close eye on your metrics for each post to determine how well that content is received. When you start to see certain types of content gaining cut-through, you can skew your campaign towards similar types of content.

Be consistent

Each post should contain one unified message across all social platforms. Lots of consumers use a range of platforms and it’s important not to confuse them but, instead, to reinforce the message you are communicating.

Be timely and relevant

A social media post that seemed perfect 24 or 48 hours ago may no longer be relevant in this fast-changing situation. Therefore, you should review the tone of voice and current news environments over the last 24 hours to ensure planned posts are still appropriate, timely and relevant.

Be a thought leader

If your content is valuable, customers will begin to think of the brand as a thought leader. This helps to achieve positive brand awareness and relevance.

As a guide, there are a few considerations to keep in mind when planning your social media campaign, especially if you want to be a thought leader:

  • How are you appealing to or improving people’s current and future wellbeing?
  • Is your product or service available or beneficial currently? If not, what content are you offering that can help fill the gap until your product or service is available again?
  • What type of language is acceptable, accessible, and will build trust? Conversely, what could be misappropriated or misinterpreted? Now’s the time for clarity so edit your posts carefully.
  • Are your sources of information trustworthy and accurate?

Talk about how you plan to help

You can use social media to communicate how you plan to help customers during and after the crisis. For example, you may be able to put payments on hold, offer free trials of your product, or provide services that businesses or individuals need during this time.

This approach is likely to make customers feel valued and supported, and therefore more likely to exhibit brand loyalty once the crisis is over.

Humanise your brand

Right now, social media, especially LinkedIn, provides a chance to humanise your brand by promoting company news. You can also use these platforms to grow professional networks and publish thought-leadership content from key stakeholders including CEOs and managers.

Here are some key considerations for building your audience on social media:

  • Who is your audience and what content will they expect to see?
  • Which social media platforms are relevant for your audience?
  • How often content will be leveraged across each platform?
  • How you will craft your brands message within each post?
  • Who will undertake community management?

Beware of scammers

In times of confusion, organisations can be targeted by scammers who create fake accounts and attempt to divert funds for their own profit. It’s essential for businesses to keep a close eye on social media and act immediately to stop scammers in their tracks.

Where to from here

Social media can be extremely powerful for organisations in all sectors, especially now when the world is hungry for information and connection. If your business doesn’t have a social media platform in place, now’s the time to start. Not only will it help you improve your communications with your customers, but it will also alert you to any branding or trust issues that may be developing, letting you address them sooner.

When developing content for your social media strategy, there are four key questions to consider:

  • Does your content create emotional connections through stories?
  • Is your content timely, relevant and trustworthy?
  • Is your content generating engagement from your target audience?
  • Can you recruit followers into ambassadors for your brand?

Overall, your social media investment should be quantifiable and be used to create meaningful connections and foster engagement that lasts longer than one or two posts.

For independent and individual recommendations to help your business navigate through the COVID-19 crisis, contact Write Away Communication today.

10 tips for maintaining professionalism even if you’re not in the office

For those of us fortunate enough to be able to work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s all a new and daunting experience. The daily commute for many Australians is just a few steps away, and conversations with coworkers are now limited to virtual calls. This means many people, particularly extroverts who thrive off human interaction, can find this challenging.

While most (67 per cent) remote workers in Australia report a boost in productivity, for some, adjusting to this new way of working can be overwhelming as they struggle to get into a working routine.[1]

To avoid making working from home look like a mini staycation, we’ve put together 10 tips to help maintain professionalism in the current climate:

1. Get dressed for work

Often the first thing that excites people about working from home is the idea that you can work in your pajamas. While it is okay to dress comfortably, consider coming up with a new uniform instead. This could include comfy pants and a nice shirt so you look professional on video calls. Having your own dress code will maintain the preparation ritual before work and will help set the right mental tone for the day.

2. Maintain regular work hours

To help create clear boundaries between work and home life, maintain regular work hours. By dedicating the same hours to work every day, you are giving your brain time to rest. One of the benefits of working from home is the flexibility that comes with it. This means that, if permitted by your employer, you can choose these daily dedicated hours. For example, instead of working 9am to 5pm, you could instead work 7am to 3pm, leaving the afternoon free for other activities.

3. Create a designated workspace

Creating an ergonomic workspace is essential for sustained concentration and productivity. A dedicated workspace will not only help shift your mindset into work mode, but it can also prevent neck and back pain from a poor set up. Use books to elevate your laptop or monitor to your eyeline. As the laptop’s keyboard will now be too high to reach, also ensure that you use a separate keyboard and mouse.

4. Set up a Zoom-friendly environment

The inability to have face-to-face meetings means the frequency of your video calls will increase. Ensure that your workspace looks clean and professional, and if possible, avoid having a door in the background of your video calls. This will reduce the risk of people walking into the back of your video calls and disrupting the conversation. If this is not possible, set up a virtual background for your video calls to block out your surroundings.

5. Minimise distractions

Notice what causes you to lose focus throughout the day and remove those distractions.

If you are working at home with family members or roommates, communicate with them and tell them what you need. Let them know when you don’t want to be disturbed and equally when they can have a chat. By planning for social time such as during your lunch break, you will reduce the amount of times they come in for a chat and cause you to lose focus.

6. Know when you’re most productive

We don’t hold the same level of concentration all the time, so your motivation will naturally ebb and flow throughout the day. Learn what times of the day you are most productive and capitalise on these. Plan to complete the harder or more dense tasks when you know you’ll be in the right headspace for them. You can then use slower points in your day to finish your easier tasks or schedule calls.

7. Stay connected to coworkers

To stay focused and avoid feeling overwhelmed at home, maintain regular communication with your coworkers. By checking in with them, you will be able to stay up to date on current projects, while also ensuring you have essential human interaction.

If you have a question, rather than sending a complicated email, pick up the phone and talk it through. This is more efficient and will give you a chance to catch up or touch base regarding other projects. However, it’s also important to be aware of how your coworkers prefer to work. If you know a coworker prefers email, don’t bombard them with phone calls during this time.

8. Control your social media use

Social media can cause us to lose hours each day mindlessly scrolling and, away from the office environment, it’s up to you to monitor your usage. Turn notifications off and allocate time to check your phone throughout the day. If you are still struggling, turn on Apple or Android’s screen time controls, which allow you to set daily application limits and downtime.

9. Virtually commute

Another benefit of working from home is the missed commute to work every day. Instead of rolling out of bed 10 minutes before work, use this saved time to be productive. This can be as simple as a stroll around the block or reading the paper with your morning coffee. Give your brain time to virtually commute to work, separating work and home tasks.

10. Get outside

One of the biggest traps we can find ourselves in when working from home is not leaving the house. Find a reason to get outside at least once a day so long as it is safe to do so: grab a takeaway coffee at your local café; go for a run; or do your grocery shopping. The reason doesn’t matter, just as long as you get some fresh air daily.

Working from home should replicate the office, with a few added benefits. To maintain professionalism, you must work smarter not harder. Separate work and home life as much as possible, get in the right mindset for the day and capitalise on your most productive hours. Write down your priorities at the beginning of the day and find ways to make each task enjoyable and reward yourself.

Once you have a new routine in place, you’ll find working from home lets you be just as professional and productive as working in the office, if not more.


Five ways to prepare for the day when working from home 

Everyone has a standard routine that prepares them for the workdayMost of us get up, shower, get dressed in our office clothes, maybe have coffee and some breakfast, and then head out the door for the commute to work.  

But, when you’re working from home, the lines can blur. There’s no real distinction between ‘home’ and ‘the office’. No one sees your outfit unless you’re on a video call, and there’s no one to watch over your shoulder as you work.  

These differences can create a feeling of being disconnected from work. Even though we may log into our email and start getting things done, for many of us, that disconnected feeling can lead to distraction and lower productivity. First we decide to put on a load of laundry, then we may check our social media feeds, then it’s time to hang the laundry out, then it’s lunchtime, and, before you know it, the day is over and we haven’t ticked much off our work to-do list.  

This feeling is fairly universal, especially among people working from home for the first time. So, how can we help our teams to transition from office life to working from home without losing productivity and motivation?  

Setting ourselves up for success starts every morning as we prepare for the day ahead and get into a good working mentality. We’ve outlined five ways you can prepare yourself each day to work from home:  

1. Get up and get dressed for work 

It’s important to maintain a regular routine for the workday even when you’re working from home. Keeping the same daily habits that prepared you for the office will add some normalcy. If you usually wake up at 5:00am and head to the gym, set your alarm for the same time and head out for a walk or run instead.  

When we’re preparing for workwe need to get into the right headspace and getting dressed for the office is still an integral part of that routine. Dressing for our job sets us up for success and helps us get into a work mentalityAnd, if your company relies on video communication, it guarantees that you’re never caught out on a client call while in your pyjamas.  

While it may not be essential to dress in business attire every day, especially if you don’t have any video calls, it’s still important to wear street clothes. This helps you get into the mindset of working as opposed to lounging around 

2. Maintain a separate workspace 

As much as dressing for work helps to keep us feeling professional and engaged, maintaining a dedicated workspace is also crucial. Having a space set up exclusively for work encourages more focus and prevents unnecessary distractions.  

If you have children, it might be worth investing in a lock for the door where possible to minimise interruptions and to keep a clear line between work and home environments. Keeping a dedicated workspace will also help your health in the long run. Having a proper setup, with a desk or table and a chair, will minimise the risk of back trouble that you may experience if you work from bed or the couch for an extended period 

3. Keep an office environment 

While preparing to work from home each day, it’s important to keep in mind that our office space needs to foster productivity. So, if you miss the hum of a busy office for example, consider setting up a Spotify playlist each day to run in the background and keep you motivated for the task at hand.  

Keeping a clean, office-like environment will also help to minimise additional distractions. As the move to a work-from-home setup has been unexpected for some, many people may have quickly repurposed spare rooms and dining tables for their new office. It’s important to remove unrelated items from the space to keep productivity high and distractions low. It might be worth removing your laundry or other items from your space before commencing work for the day.  

4. Set regular office hours 

It can be easy to fall into the trap of doing additional tasks and chores while working from home. Setting regular office hours and sticking to them will help to minimise distractions during the day. Setting timers for tasks can keep you working productively and let you finish work on time. Then you can embark on household activities.  

Although the quiet of a home office can be confronting, try not to spend your day calling family and friends to keep you company while you work. And, stay away from conducting excessive life administrative tasks during your working hours.  

If you have additional household tasks that need to be done, such as managing children who are supposed to be learning online, speak to your manager about adjusting your working hours to accommodate these. Then, when you’re on work time, make sure you’re doing work tasks. Planning your day ahead of time will keep you on track for each activity.  

An important part of this will also be taking dedicated lunch breaks and maintaining a similar routine to your office life. If you regularly make a coffee at 9:00am in the office, keep that routine. It will give you a small break from your work without interrupting your productivity. If you don’t usually fold your laundry at 3:15pm during a conference call, then you shouldn’t do this while working from home. 

5. Work smarter 

Working from home has many benefits, from the short commute to the loss of office distractions like colleagues’ phone calls, unnecessary meetings, and derailing conversations. But the home office also has its own intrusions. Spending the first or last five minutes of your day to outline your high priority work tasks will keep you focused and will be a guide for how your day will unfold 

If you’re easily distracted, try using browser extensions on your computer to restrict access to social media for work hours and set your phone on ‘do not disturb’ where possible, or limit access to apps during set hours. 

Working from home for many people will require an adjustment period and we all need to be patient with each other as we get into the swing of things. There are many things outside of our control in this current climate, but we do have control over ourselves and our approach to the situation. Taking steps to set ourselves up for success each day will help keep a sense of normalcy in an otherwise uncertain world. 

Transitioning your office staff to work from home without sacrificing productivity or connectedness

Unless you’re an essential worker, the latest Australian government restrictions now stipulate that we must stay at home wherever possible.

While some of us are used to working from home on occasion, for most of us, working from home on an extended basis was never the plan. Supporting your staff in this difficult time involves more than just ensuring they have a reliable internet connection and a comfortable chair.

In the current environment, teams are also dealing with confusion around terms like social distancing, quarantine, isolation and lockdown, as well as economic and financial uncertainty.

While each industry is different and will have its own unique challenges, there are many ways that we can support our staff throughout this uncertain period.

Set clear expectations

With any remote workforce, it is crucial that teams understand what you expect of them. Most likely, your expectations will remain the same as they were when your people were in the office, albeit with some flexibility to account for the current circumstances.

Providing staff with guidelines helps them develop new routines will encourage a sense of normalcy as they begin to adapt to remote working environments.

Consider sharing a company-wide list of expectations for your team to adhere to in their new work-from-home environments. Give them tips to help them adjust to new ways of working, including attending regular team video calls, maintaining a dress code for virtual meetings, and adhering to standard office breaktimes.

Many of your people will be trying to work while juggling kids at home or at-risk family members. You may need to update and adapt workplace policies to support these team members. You might also consider adjusting business hours where possible to accommodate working parents (outside of client deadlines), helping to alleviate additional stressors in a rapidly changing environment.

Support staff with the right technology

Remote working takes away the physical connections for many team members. While the introverts among them may thrive, others will feel disconnected during this time. You can deploy collaborative tools to help your people remain both productive and connected. The right technology, which supports and enhances people’s ability to do their job regardless of their physical location, is critical to success for remote workforces.

Collaborative tools such as OneDrive, Google Docs, or Microsoft Teams, let teammates work together on projects from different geographical locations without losing any productivity. Team members can leave comments and updates for colleagues while editing content, chat within documents where needed, and see changes in real time.

Using collaboration and video communications platforms, your team members can still communicate and work effectively and efficiently without losing anything except the physical presence of their colleagues.

Communicate often and consistently 

The COVID-19 global crisis is a constantly changing situation with many different moving parts. When people feel particularly uncertain of the future, it is essential to communicate effectively and efficiently with them.

It’s important to remember that some people may feel more stressed than others, and that overcommunicating in a situation like this is far preferable to having your team wondering what’s happening.

Above all else, it is important to remember that these are uncertain times for everyone the world over. Businesses should factor in a transition period as they move their office-based workers online and they familiarise themselves with a new remote-working environment.

How to motivate your teams while working remotely 

While the current global situation has forced the hands of many when it comes to remote working there are some benefits that can help make the situation easier. Some of these include avoiding stressful commutes and the ability to accommodate other commitments and interests such as exercise or reading while still meaningfully contributing to the team, and the business.  

Despite the benefits, for many people, working remotely is an entirely new practice that will take some time to adjust to, especially when the boss and everyone else is now also working from home. 

Keeping teams motivated often presents challenges to businesses and, with so many uncertainties as a result of the global pandemic, there is an increased need to keep staff engaged in work, particularly for those that are new to the work-from-home model.  

So, how can businesses ensure that teams are motivated while working remotely indefinitely?  

Keep teams connected and engaged 

Communication is essential even in the best of times. It can also be a huge motivator for dispersed workforces. Staying in touch with your teams is critical to ensuring that they feel supported, especially in times of crisis. 

Connecting across a newly created remote workforce doesn’t need to be a difficult task. Some ways to facilitate this might include: 

1. Collaborative tools and technologies: programs and applications that let employees work together in real time It’s comforting for staff to know that, even though they can’t chat across the desk about projects, they can still instant message colleagues or work together in the same online environment. 

2. Management updates: scheduling more frequent catchups with individual employees and teams keeps everyone on the same path and working towards a common goal. It also lets team members know they are valued and supported as increased contact will quickly identify any challenges and provide an opportunity to find solutions. 

3. Face-to-face communication: using video calls more frequently creates a stronger team environment than when colleagues can’t see each other. Moving wider company updates to video calls also provides more social interaction for team members in isolation. 

Its important to remember that not every company call needs to have a work focus. We’re in a new world and many of us are missing our regular social interactions, not only with our colleagues but with our wider network. Scheduling a social video call for staff on a Friday afternoon, for example, is another way to engage staff, especially when we can’t dedicate time to this in an external setting. 

We’re all in this together 

While working from home will be a new experience for many people, it won’t be alien to everyone. Now is the time to reach out to team members that have experience working remotely and ask them to share their tips for staying motivated. You can also encourage people to contact them directly if they need further advice and guidance.  

Consider compiling these tips into one document that team members can refer to, or even host them on a collaborative platform. That way, workers can gradually add to the list with their own tips and tricks thelp their colleagues later down the track.  

As a starting point, teams may find the following tips helpful to start developing a new routine: 

  • stick to a regular workday morning routine 
  • dress appropriately for your workday  
  • take breaks as you would in the office for tea and coffee or lunch 
  • separate the office from home and finish your work on time where possible. 

Depending on your team structure, you might think about assigning small teams to a work-from-home buddy or mentor. This can facilitate more open discussions about challenges that people are facing and encourage regular communication about daily activities 

It‘s reassuring to know that we’re all in the same boat when it comes to navigating the new working world that we’re in. Remember, nothing beats honest, regular communication while people settle into this brave new world.  

Keeping teams engaged in a rapidly changing working landscape

Now that many workplaces have transitioned their employees to work from home indefinitely, keeping teams actively engaged with their work can be challenging.

We are being bombarded with updates about the ongoing crisis. These constant alerts capture our attention from our new home offices, often distracting us from work and adding stress and uncertainty to our workdays.

With all these sources vying for our attention, how can you help your employees stay focused and connected?

Building a new team environment

Many workers that have spent years of their life in an office environment have now been forced to work in isolation and there will understandably be some teething problems.

Letting staff members know that they are still part of a team will encourage more employee engagement. There are many tools you can use to promote a team environment, even virtually. For example:

1. Video calls: many workers will likely struggle without seeing their colleagues, or anyone else, each day. Encouraging the use of video calls for employee interactions, including project briefings and meetings, will add in a much-needed social element and keep staff connected. Being able to see each other face-to-face will let teams have better conversations, as they will be able to pick up on verbal and emotional cues that may be lacking from email correspondence.

2. Collaborative technologies: providing staff with the opportunity to work collaboratively, regardless of their location, can lead to increased productivity as well as employee engagement. Collaborative environments, such as Google Drive or Microsoft Teams, will connect staff in real time and avoid misunderstandings, delays, and errors that may be missed when relying solely on written communication.

3. Messaging applications: the feeling of isolation will be confronting for many people, especially with such a rapid change occurring in both their professional and personal life. Instant messaging apps like Skype for Business and Slack let colleagues communicate freely, often externally to their projects, and can add a much-needed social aspect to the remote working environment.

If team members are struggling with isolation measures and social distancing, chances are they won’t be very engaged in their work. Providing communication channels for team members to stay connected with their peers is just as important as communication coming from management.

If employees aren’t engaged with their work, it’s likely that you will see a drop in productivity leading to challenges down the line when it comes to maintaining business continuity throughout the coronavirus crisis. Engagement, along with open communication from management, will help to mitigate this.

Communicating openly with employees

When it comes to engaging and connecting with employees, internal communication plays a vital role. Communication channels are how you can deliver important company updates and information to your team and can keep them all working towards the same business goals.

Internal communication provides a common link for all employees and keeps them engaged with the business, making sure everyone receives the same information. For previously office-based workers, many companies already have strategies in place to deliver key information to employees. Intranets, apps, e-newsletters, and IM platforms are common among workplaces in Australia.

Using these effectively over the coming months will be key to keeping employees engaged. This means understanding which platforms to use and when, to ensure that the right information gets to the right employees at the right time. Having a clear understanding of your internal communication channels will let you classify information and distribute this in the most effective way:

1. Email and newsletters: key information and updates should be delivered to employees through mass communication channels like emails and newsletters so that each worker has the same information at the same time.

2. Virtual meetings and video: hosting virtual meetings for significant updates can be another way of disseminating business-critical information especially for smaller teams. This lets employees engage directly with management and provide immediate feedback as well as ask any questions. Some organisations may also choose to share video updates from management for clear communication of updates while adding a more personal touch.

3. Apps: if your company uses an app for staff engagement, this can be an effective means of communicating with your remote workers. Posting key updates in the app lets staff engage directly with management by asking questions and commenting in a public forum. Apps that mimic social media platforms can be useful here too, to provide another platform for team members to feel engaged with each other.

Making the most of internal communications tools

Having different tools will only be effective if they are used in the right way so adhering to good communication principles is key. Sharing relevant, timely, and targeted updates through different channels will keep your employees engaged, informed, and, hopefully, at ease. Consider scheduling a weekly team meeting to discuss any questions raised throughout the week and provide an email update on business changes as frequently as needed.

Though your staff will receive an abundance of information from different channels, overcommunicating is still preferable to under communicating. Your employees need to understand what is happening in the business and what it will mean for them, so it is important that you consider employee wellbeing when sharing information. We need to acknowledge that this is a changing world and, while there is no real benefit to being pessimistic, displaying too much optimism could be detrimental and diminish trust among your team members.

Remember to balance out your communications with a healthy focus on positive news, as well as tips and tricks for managing isolation and working from home. The more your employees feel understood and supported, the more likely they are to remain engaged in their work. And, let your team know they can contact you directly to discuss issues or concerns.

By communicating consistently and authentically, you can keep your team positively engaged through this challenging time and build strong foundations for the future.

Three ways to keep your workforce resilient through times of crisis

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is unprecedented and has affected everyone with new social distancing and isolation measures worldwide having significant impacts on our daily lives. With so many people facing uncertainty in their personal and professional lives, workers are going to need more support than ever before from their employers and industries.

For businesses it is critical that their people remain resilient and productive as it’s likely to be the only way for the company to survive this challenging time. Once the initial shock wears off, work may provide a welcome distraction for people who are worried about the virus and their loved ones. Helping keep employees safe and healthy where possible will go a long way towards keeping them calm and productive while they navigate a new (temporary) normal.

Despite the uncertainty, there are strategies that can help teams remain resilient in times of crisis and provide the support they need:

1. Remind them that help is always available

It’s important to consider the human element of supporting your workers. Most of us are social creatures; removing most of our social interactions will significantly impact employee wellbeing. This will be especially pronounced for workers that live alone, as they are now working and living in isolation.

Ensure that your team knows where and how they can access support. If you currently enlist the services of an Employee Assistance Provider (EAP), now is an important time to remind staff of their entitlements including how and where they can access this critical service. Consider sending out a reminder email with contact information for your company’s EAP, or even including the logo and contact number in internal email signatures. This can serve as a timely reminder to everyone that help is available.

For many workers, this will be an important outlet for them to discuss any concerns they have over COVID-19 and the impacts it has on our society, as well as any additional feelings of anxiety or tension they may be experiencing.

2. Provide resources for improved wellbeing

Supporting your staff’s mental health is critical. There are many free resources available online and in the community that can be accessed. Consider giving your team a list of local support services, such as Lifeline or Beyond Blue, and offer to help them access these resources when and if they need them.

There are also a number of apps designed for mental health and wellbeing. Some apps, such as Headspace, Calm, and the Australian app Smiling Mind, are geared toward teaching mindfulness. Others provide more serious mental health resources including BlackDog Snapshot, ReachOut WorryTime, and Mindshift. These are a good starting point for people who aren’t comfortable with contacting a crisis line or speaking with someone in person.

Unhappy employees are generally less productive, and any negativity can spread, affecting overall morale. Encouraging staff to access resources and seek support in a time of immense uncertainty can improve their mental health and ensure that the impact is minimised across the business.

3. Keep teams in contact

No matter where your workers are, remember that they are still working hard alongside you. Keeping teams in contact will go a long way towards keeping them connected and cohesive.

Setting up regular calls for all team members to contribute to can build on existing foundations to create stronger bonds. Virtual team meetings give everyone the opportunity to discuss the challenges they’re experiencing and provides a social element that many of them will be missing in isolation.

Keep an up-to-date phone list and share this with all staff members to serve as a reminder that they can still contact teammates easily, regardless of their physical locations, to stay connected. Knowing they can call a colleague and ask for help or offer support to anyone that may be struggling can be empowering.

With new and updated information being shared by governments and the media every hour, it’s understandable that people will feel overwhelmed and anxious about the state of the world. However, people are adaptable, and any extra help will go along way in helping alleviate the stress. Providing access to resources and keeping in contact will ensure your workforce remains as resilient as possible throughout this crisis.

Staying physically and mentally healthy while working from home

Those of us fortunate enough to be able to do our jobs from home offices have had our worlds turned upside down in recent weeks. While working from home is great in theory, with so much forced and rapid change, it can be overwhelming and hard to find your groove.

Working from home provides the ideal solution for businesses that can support it. It means people can practice physical distancing or self-isolation while still being productive at work. And, some people love the extra time and flexibility that comes with working from home. However, for others, particularly extroverts who thrive on human connection, it can be a struggle.

Aside from the lost physical interactions with colleagues and friends, self-isolation can also cause family strain. Many people are now required to both live and work with their partner and children in the same space. With no time away from the ones you love, it can be easy to become irritable and distracted due to the blurred lines between work and home life.

It’s therefore important to set boundaries during this difficult time, so you can create a new normal. You need to develop a routine that will help you stay physically and mentally healthy. We’ve outlined five simple steps to help you achieve this:

1. Replicate your daily schedule

While working from home provides a whole world of flexibility, it equally brings potential distractions with few immediate consequences. While your commute may have changed from a few hours to just a few steps, it’s advisable to set your alarm clock at the usual time and start your day the same. Whether you normally start your day with a morning walk or a coffee, aim to preserve this ritual as much as possible to help you mentally prepare for your day.

Once you’ve finished your breakfast, have a shower and get dressed for the day. One of the most tempting things to do when your first start working from home is to work in your pyjamas. Don’t do it. You still need to create a separation from work life and personal life; plus, you don’t want to be caught off-guard on a video call.

Likewise, work your normal hours. Make it clear to family members that your typical workday is still work time, not family time. If your kids are working from home with you, set a schedule for them too.

When you’re working from home and your laptop is right there, it’s so easy to shoot off one more email or quickly finish that one report. If you don’t let yourself switch off, you’ll find yourself working much later and longer hours than you normally do. It’s important to do what you can to preserve your job in this climate, while also not burning out.

2. Limit your social media

Being forced into self-isolation can be lonely, and we often turn to social media to fill that connection void. With so much going on in the world currently, it may be best to limit your endless scrolling on social media. Instead, to get your daily news fix, consult a credible source for a limited amount of time. If you’re feeling lonely, then try to call or video chat with a friend instead.

If you’re not sure you can limit yourself, then set forced restrictions in your phone. Apple and Android phones both have settings that let you restrict your screen time by setting daily app limits. Of course, you can dismiss these if you want to keep scrolling, but it provides a reality check of how much time you’ve wasted scrolling. While social media can be great for maintaining connections, it can equally make you feel even more alone, and provide you with an inaccurate understanding of current events.

3. Virtual catch ups

Humans are social creatures. Even though we are being encouraged to self-isolate physically, we should not be socially isolating ourselves.

Virtual catch ups can replicate almost any type of physical interaction you had pre-coronavirus. You can have a coffee date, do a workout together, update your colleagues on current projects, or even sync Netflix to have movie night together. Making the effort to connect virtually with the people in your life can help to combat loneliness during isolation and help others that need a mood boost.

4. Maintain or start an exercise routine

With gyms closed it would be easy to stop exercising, however it’s more important than ever to get those endorphins going, regardless of whether you were exercising regularly or not before self-isolation.

There are apps and YouTube clips that provide guided workouts, and some gyms are offering online options. You can access anything from HIIT, yoga, and strength training to Pilates or even dance classes.

5. Go outside, even if you don’t need to

If online workouts aren’t for you, then get outside and go for a walk or light jog if you can. Leaving the house and getting some fresh air is important to avoid getting cabin fever, even if you step out of your front door for just five minutes.

Try to find a silver lining in these crazy times, can you enjoy more time with your kids, do some spring cleaning that you’ve put off, binge on a few Netflix shows, or slow down, reflect and plan for the future.

Getting the most value from your PR agency

Recognising the value of public relations (PR) is essential to any successful campaign or partnership. A strong relationship between the client and the PR team requires the client to understand how PR works, what to expect and their responsibilities. After selecting the right agency, the work doesn’t finish there; a truly successful strategy requires the client’s ongoing active participation.

PR agencies are a great resource to help companies achieve their short- and long-term goals against defined key performance indicators (KPIs). Not only are agency teams experts in the field (it’s what they live and breathe), they can also leverage extensive databases, understand the operations behind relevant publications, and capitalise on pre-existing relationships with journalists; something that in-house teams can’t always do.

PR agencies take the pressure off internal communication teams, and when used well, can work as an extension of the business and marketing strategy. Just like any other business partner, you get out what you put in. So, how can you get the most out of your PR agency?

1. Brief your agency thoroughly

For a PR agency to work as an extension of your company, they need to understand not only what you do, but the ins and outs of your company. The more the agency team understands your business, the better they can develop stories to build your profile with the right people.

Your PR agency is only as good as the information it’s given. Ensure your agency is aware of any new or emerging business news or developments. This includes internal, confidential information, as well as customer-facing news. If your agency knows what’s on the horizon, the team can prepare appropriately and give you the best possible advice. Agencies will happily sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) and would never divulge commercially-sensitive information.

Once the agency understands where the business has been, you need to explain where you want to go. For a PR agency to deliver successful campaigns, you must illustrate what success means to your organisation. Work with your agency to set realistic, measurable objectives to be reviewed regularly to ensure everyone is working towards a clear and mutually-agreed goal.

2. Be timely

Like any successful project, PR campaigns require strategy and planning. Providing adequate lead time for non-urgent announcements will mean that your agency can carefully craft a great pitch, tailor it to each media outlet, and strategically time it to generate the most traction. Likewise, you need your company contact and spokesperson to be readily available for urgent approvals or requests and interviews respectively. Journalists work on tight deadlines and accommodating their last-minute requests can often mean your spokespeople become trusted sources.

3. Give constructive feedback, and listen to theirs

The key to any good partnership is honesty and communication. If there is an issue, or you’re not satisfied with your results, tell your agency (in a constructive manner). A good PR agency will accept the feedback, and work with you to address the issue and find a solution that everyone is happy with. Likewise, if you are happy with a particular activity, share it with your agency so they can continue to generate similar results.

It is equally important to listen to and trust your agency. You hired it for the team’s expert advice, so use it. The team may look at a situation differently and offer advice you might not have expected, especially in a crisis. Hear them out, even if you ultimately decide not to follow that advice.

4. Use all available services, including media training

PR agencies have moved well beyond traditional media relations, often offering an array of additional services to offer an integrated approach to your communication strategy. Centralising communications through your PR agency by accessing services including copywriting, content marketing, crisis management, advertising, employee engagement and media training, will not only ensure that you are delivering one coherent message, but will also relieve some of the pressure on your internal teams.

5. Be realistic

One of the most important ways to get the most out of your PR agency is to set realistic expectations. It’s not necessarily unreasonable to want a front-page story in the Sydney Morning Herald or the Australian Financial Review; however, the possibility of this depends on a variety of factors including but not limited to: the type of company you work for; its offering; your spokesperson; the story; and other news that day. Working with your agency at the beginning of the partnership to set realistic, measurable objectives will help you understand what is possible.

To learn more about our services and how we can help you, visit our website or contact us today.