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While most places are not completely out of the Covid-19 woods yet, we are seeing movement toward something that resembles an altered version of “normal” as select industries and workplaces return to work in-person.
With new safety and social distancing procedures in place, people in the automotive, manufacturing and mobility technology space are slowly ramping back up as the industry machine starts chugging again.
But as we re-emerge, we quickly notice that things aren’t exactly the way they were before. Many aspects of business under pandemic conditions still linger. Frequently, we find ourselves asking what things should we as communicators be keeping in mind turning this time of uncertainty. Especially when dealing with media, vendors and partners?
While nobody can claim to have all the answers, here are five things to keep in mind as we remerge together:
Consider Everyone’s Unique Experience – Remember that each individual person you engage with, from journalists to colleagues, have all had a different experience over the past few months. For some people, the impacts they felt were minimal. For others they could have been drastic or traumatic, and in the worst cases, tragic. Being aware that everyone is doing their best to return to work and that it might be more difficult for some than others can be key in making your communication and partnership efforts effective.
In-Person is Not Guaranteed – Don’t expect a return to in-person meetings, group brainstorming sessions or networking right away. Know that each company, vendor, journalist, etc. you deal with might be under a different set of operating procedures and restrictions, and hence, a different range of expectations and frustrations. Patience and flexibility will be key as you collaborate with others to work toward your communications goals. Think about what tactics worked well during the height of stay-at-home orders in terms of collaborating and planning – how can you continue or expand on those now?
Travel Tie-Ups – Many companies will still have restrictions for non-essential travel in place for their employees for quite a while. Keep that in mind as you make any future-forward business or communications plans that might involve sales people, event planners, large meetings, conferences, and the like. Always consider a backup plan to go digital or to handle things remotely if needed. Keep in mind that depending on how things go, some of the restrictions we are experiencing today could stretch into 2021. While it’s good to think positively about next year, always have another avenue planned so that your goals are not completely thwarted.
That Virtual Life – For the immediate future, the reliance on all things digital will most likely remain. Trade shows and events are still being taken online. Remember that the media is still counting on these events for news and trend stories, so be sure to keep track of available opportunities to be involved. Don’t let your pre-COVID event plans go totally to waste. Was your company planning to share product news at a show this year? Were your experts going to present during an educational session or tech talk? Were you planning on lining up media interviews during an industry event? If you had content and plans already prepared, think of new ways to present it to key reporters, either digitally or by offering up phone / video interviews.
Reporter Review – During the height of the pandemic, most journalists covering automotive, manufacturing and mobility tech were focused on covering its impact on businesses. Now that things are slowly getting back to near-normal, it might be a good time to check in with your business and trade reporter contacts to see what their needs are in this new stage. Are they still mostly focused on stories covering the virus impact? Or are they looking for fresh news? What have their readers been clamoring for?
There’s no question, COVID19 has created unmatched uncertainty in what had been a pretty predictable work environment. But by considering these five factors as we make our plans for the “next normal”, communicators can adapt their plans and help their companies move from surviving to thriving in the weeks and months ahead.