The Spa PR Company founder Tracey Stapleton offers advice for those hit by the pandemic
No matter where you are in the world, the coronavirus represents a crisis like no other – one that has been impossible for any of us to fully prepare for. What we have to remember, though, is that things will return to normal at some stage, albeit a new kind of normal.
Thinking and planning ahead in a crisis is critical to your business and what you do at each stage of a crisis can make or break your brand. The way you treat your employees, suppliers and customers can either create powerful bonds for a lifetime or lead to bad feelings; the messaging you send out can reassure and support your market or anger and upset them.
Marketing is one of the most vulnerable functions of a business in a crisis and often the first to be cut, but it plays a central role in finding new ways to drive demand and engagement as well as steadying anxieties and communicating strong, positive and consistent brand messages.
1. Stay calm.
We make much better decisions when we are in a calm state. It’s important that tiredness and emotions don’t influence the process as you need to have all your strength to take intelligent action. One way of doing this is to distance yourself from the problem and look at the bigger picture. It’s much easier to come up with a solution if you’re not caught up with the detail.
2. With any crisis, there’s the initial critical phase, a time of evaluations and planning when you need to act quickly.
Assess the facts from reliable sources, see how the brand and business is impacted, then create a strategy for continuity. This is a time to limit damage, look after your staff and see what your company can do for your clients and community to satisfy their needs.
3. At each stage of a crisis, you should assess your messaging.
The critical stage is not a time to be promotional but to showcase your positive values. In the case of coronavirus, the important message is one of togetherness and support. Later on, when the situation improves and recovery starts, it will be one of celebration.
4. Do good.
If this is a shared crisis, see if your business can play a role in alleviating the situation for others. As a spa operator, this is a time to demonstrate your true wellness values. Can you help your local community? Can you take any part of your business online to help the wider public? Is there more you could do for your staff?
5. Keep your communications going.
You may not be able to offer clients your normal service but you can still involve them in your brand, whether that’s through helpful ‘spa at home’ and self-massage tips, recipes, or even gift ideas.
6. Stay one step ahead.
Nothing stays the same and while you may not be able to predict exactly when things will improve, you can keep monitoring the market and taking advantage of all opportunities.
7. Be creative.
In times of adversity, creativity really does bring positivity to everyone involved. In the current crisis we’ve seen people come together from all round the world in an online global choir; deliver postcards of help to older people to tackle isolation; and a French luxury goods group has converted its perfume factories to make hand sanitiser. As they say, there is good and bad in everything!
Tracey Stapleton is managing director of The Spa PR Company in London. Starting her career over 30 years ago at one of London’s largest consumer agencies, she has experience in working with major brands as well as in business development. She has previously developed crisis strategies and management for a number of clients in the leisure sector.