Getting your Crisis Communications right

coronavirus covid19 communication plan crisis communication

We’re all trying to come to terms with the ‘new normal’, and what that means for us, our families and our businesses. With a crisis, there is more reason to communicate (and communicate well) than at many other times. Our previous blog ran through the things you need to get a plan in place. This time we’ve got more tips to help you to get your crisis communications right.

A plan is just a plan if nothing happens. So, here goes.

Who’s in charge?

In the corporate world and in global crisis management there is a tried and tested structure which can be adopted by SMEs too. It works!

It is a 3-tier command:

  • Gold – The ultimate decision-maker
  • Silver – People directing how the plan is delivered
  • Bronze – People with specific tasks to complete.

In a very small business, the Gold and Silver roles might be merged together. You might even have all three roles yourself.

It is easy to make mistakes if you try to do everything yourself. It is a truism that a problem shared is a problem halved. This is true for a lot of SMEs, particularly the smallest, micro-businesses.  So, find someone to be a second opinion. That person needs to challenge your own assumptions and provide an alternative perspective. Your decisions will be stronger for surviving scrutiny. They can save you from making a bad decision which you later regret or waste resources correcting.

One message

Have clear information which everyone in the business can refer to. You cannot say one thing to staff and something else to others. Social media and instant communication make that impossible.

Prepare to be flexible

You will get reactions. Questions will be asked. So, be ready to answer them.

Things can change quickly in a crisis like COVID-19. We’ve all seen how new information changes the situation, radically altering what you can do and how you can do it.

Listen to feedback from your team, monitor reliable sources of information and speak to others in a similar position to get an external viewpoint. But don’t slavishly follow others, they might be wrong. Do and say what’s right for your business and your stakeholders.

Structure, Review and Update

This won’t be a case of just communicating with your audiences only once. You need to keep people informed and up to date.  It is time to establish a structure and process. A few actions can be hard-wired into your management:

  • Gold and Silver Command needs to meet/speak frequently and make any changes necessary.
  • Plan how often you are going to communicate – but keep this under review. You’ll probably want to speak to some people more often than others to update them.
  • Stick to the plan.


Creating your Crisis Communication Plan

corona virus covid 19 crisis communications plan

If you have a Crisis Communication Plan, you’ve probably already got it off the shelf. No plan? It’s not too late to pull one together in our 5 easy steps.

The world is unpredictable and, at times volatile. Almost out of nowhere events can present you with a crisis which jeopardises your carefully prepared business plans.

Coronavirus, or COVID-19 is exactly this kind of challenge.

Don’t Panic!

The last thing you should do is panic. There are things you can say and do to ride out the storm and position your business to bounce back from any setback.  A Crisis Communication Plan will help.

So, how should you react? What can you do? What do you say? And who do you need to speak to?

5 steps to creating your Crisis Communication Plan

Step 1 – Recognising there’s a problem

What is the crisis? Share your thoughts with your senior team – or get someone external who understands business to brainstorm through the potential impact. There may be areas of your operations that you just haven’t identified as being at risk.

Step 2 – Who do you need to speak to and inform?

Think internally and externally. Who are your stakeholders?

  • your own staff and key contractors
  • clients, customers, and potential customers
  • suppliers
  • backers, investors, shareholders, bank
  • landlord, logistics partners…

List all of them and their contact details.


Marketing Plan on a Page

Marketing plan on a page

Yes, it’s possible to create a Marketing Plan on just one sheet of paper!

Marketing Plan on a Page is a technique which helps you to capture ALL of the aspects of your marketing plan for your business. It’s a visual process, the plan can also be easily updated and, if you stick it to the office wall, then you won’t forget about it!

So, what’s involved?

A Marketing Plan for your business is about identifying your target audience and how you are going to reach them. But, to be effective, it’s about so much more. Your marketing activity needs to be integrated with the rest of the business.

This is where a Marketing Plan on a Page can really help!

Integrating your Marketing Plan into your business

A Marketing Plan on a Page exercise actually requires a lot of thinking, and not just about how your business will reach and engage with its customers. Before you start, you will need to have thought about:

Your business objectives

Be clear on your business objectives! Then, your marketing activity (and budget) can be aligned and can support them. Identify the things that will impact negatively and positively on the ability of your business to meet those objectives, as this will also help to show you where marketing effort will be required.

Your competitors and customers

Do you know who your business competitors are? And, how much do you know about their products, services and marketing approach? When you have identified your competitors and their approach, you will need to decide on what basis you will compete.

And what about your customers? How much do you know about them? Your marketing efforts will need you to identify customer segments, and will be even more effective when you create ‘personas’.

Your Brand and channels  

Articulate your brand values. These will impact on everything from the marketing channels you use to the approach and messaging.

And, talking of channels, which ones will you use? Think about how you’ll implement your marketing, and how your business will communicate to different customer segments, and at different stages in the customer journey.

Your budget and resources

What are the budget implications for your proposed marketing activity? Costs will include website design and branding as well as ongoing web hosting, memberships, subscriptions and traditional media.

You need to think about who will do this work. Will it be you or someone else? Will you use agencies to help with campaigns or specific activities, such as telemarketing?

Your timescale and targets

A plan needs a beginning and an end! You also need to set realistic goals and targets and monitor them.

That’s a lot of information!

As you can imagine, the traditional Marketing Plan is often a long time in the research and writing and, if it’s ever completed, it spends even longer unopened. Capturing the key aspects of the plan, on just one page, means that the plan is in view and can be modified and updated as business needs change.

Would you like to know more?

The Marketing Plan on a Page is based on the popular ‘Canvas’ approach developed by Strategyzer.

If you’re local to Oxfordshire, then come along to a half-day Marketing Plan on a Page workshop for small businesses, provided by South and Vale Business Support. Check their Eventbrite page for the next date.

Or, just get in touch for a chat. Lesley McKie of Positively Media is supporting small businesses with the development of their Value Propositions and Marketing Canvas and would love to hear from you.

Location, location, location

Choosing a great venue is really important to making your event a success

It really doesn’t matter how much effort you put into a campaign launch, a networking or marketing event. If you stage an event at the wrong location you won’t reap all the rewards. Put simply, it is not good public relations.

More than anything, you are looking to create the right atmosphere. So, if you pick a venue that nobody likes, it will be hard to persuade your invited audience to come. On the other hand, when you get the location right, people will not only want to come along, they’ll remember it long afterwards.

If a location is special or interesting, it will add to your audience’s experience. It will also leave a positive impression about you, your products, services and your business.

Great locations are memorable. This client event at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History, home of dinosaurs and the dodo, is still being talked about!

A Royal boost for coral reef global campaign

Prince Charles coral reef IYOR

As we now know, the world’s Coral Reefs are gravely endangered by ocean warming and climate change.

The need for action was highlighted by the  International Year of the Reef.

An important IYOR event was a gathering of the world’s top coral reef experts at an event hosted by HRH The Prince of Wales Sustainability Office. The profile of the whole campaign gained significant momentum with an address by HRH The Prince of Wales.

The media relations for IYOR at the gathering in London were provided by Positively Media. Within minutes, the major digital and print channels had distributed our images, with the key messages.

If you’ve got a story to tell, let’s talk!

Google goes underwater in the coral triangle

google seaview coral triangle

Google is immersing itself in ocean change. You can now ‘dive’ with a survey team in a virtual reality experience. Why not explore underwater locations in the Coral Triangle? Check out the content in Google Maps. It is all possible following a partnership with Positively Media clients The Ocean Agency and XL Catlin (now AXAXL).

The more people know about our oceans, the better. With Google, you can discover a  hidden world with stunning images exactly as if you were there yourself. See this amazing underwater world on your screen is helping to overcome the biggest problem for ocean change communicators: if it is out of sight, it is out of mind.

Twitter Lists

phone screen for managing twitter lists

Whether you are a list lover or loather there is no doubt that Twitter Lists can be really useful. 

Looking for the right accounts to follow?

A great way to quickly identify accounts that could be of interest is to find a relevant list. This is a great way to kick-start a new Twitter account, or identify new customers or influencers. The best place to start is thinking about who may have similar interests to you. That could be an individual or an organisation. Open up the full profile of the twitter account and look to see if they have lists. If they are any good, it is like finding gold dust.

Subscribe to other peoples’ lists!

If you’ve found a list that looks useful, then subscribe! There is no need to create a list yourself, just follow one that someone else has assembled. There’s every chance that a topic you would find useful, for example media providers, specialist food producers or creative designers, then someone else will have a list already. If they’ve been generous enough to make that list public, then all you need to do is subscribe!

Spending too much time scrolling through your timeline and not finding posts you want to read?

Create your own lists as way of coping with volumes of posts, and for sifting out the posts that you are most likely to be interested in. Work out some categories for the accounts you follow and place your favourites into lists. When you check your twitter feed by looking at the list, you will have filtered posts, seeing only those of relevance to you.

Storytelling at the speed of a shutter click


Research reveals that we only remember about 10% of what we hear and 20% of what we read. Our superpower is our eyesight: we retain a massive 80 percent of what we see. Our brain is great at visual processing, making the value of images very powerful. They attract, explain, inspire and teach us in ways that are memorable. Today, we’re bombarded by information and it is a problem separating what is important from the clutter. Fortunately, our brains ability to interpret an image at 13 milliseconds is lightening fast, making the value of great visuals even greater. You have 13 milliseconds to create interest.

Photos give depth to a story and at Positively we use them in our storytelling. We took audiences into the ocean to understand the impacts of global warming. The images immediately engage people with the drama captured by the dive teams in remote places.