PRSA Colorado Webinar Recording: New Pros Communicating in the Era of COVID-19

    The coronavirus has had far reaching impacts across almost every organization and has presented a series of unique challenges. For some, it’s our first encounter with large-scale crisis communications and even if it’s not our first crisis, it is certainly a unique situation. This May, the PRSA Colorado New Pros group gathered virtually to talk about crisis communications during COVID-19.


    Our conversation was led by our co-chairs - Bailey Gannett, Communications Specialist at Cherwell Software; and Julia Passantino, Communications and Support Coordinator at ZAPPlication. Bailey has been managing an in-person conference that went virtual, a transition to a remote workforce, and company restructuring. Julia has been working with art festivals and fairs to manage their event cancellations and postponements and promote best practices. Throughout the past few months we’ve both had our jobs shift massively and worked to adapt our communication plans.


    Our Current Solutions

    Julia and her team have found the following useful throughout this uncertain time:


    • Resource gathering to both assist our clients and continue to be seen as an expert in our field.
    • Canned responses to ensure our clients both receive all the information they need, and we are asking the right questions in return.
    • Discounts where possible to help out our clients and respond to the challenges facing our industry.


    Bailey and her team have used the following throughout this period of change:

    • Crisis calls with their Executive Leadership Team and events teams to assess the current situation and respond properly.
    • Serious assessments and research of the current situation to develop a plan moving forward.
    • Working closely with HR to maintain company morale in the face of company restructuring.
    • Internal discussions on best practices and external messaging.


    Best Practices and Lessons Learned

    Julia has found social monitoring and consistent communication to be key in staying on top of the current situation. Social monitoring ensures our organization can react quickly and appropriately and consistent communication both externally and internally means we know who is in charge of specific new tasks and how quickly they should be done every day.


    For Bailey having a crisis communications plan is a must to ensure quick responses and a proactive approach. Empathy has also been essential in working remotely and in the wake of company restructuring. Overall, you can never be too prepared and maintaining a calm and kind tone in both internal and external communications is essential in such a widespread crisis.


    Virtual Event Planning

    The conversation ended with some learnings surrounding virtual events. Bailey moved an in-person event to a fully-virtual one in the matter of a few months, and shared her learnings from the experience:

    1. When assessing vendor options for virtual events, keep in mind the upload speed and the logistics for streaming.
    2. Identify alternative routes of engagement. Conferences typically create opportunities for networking and building relationships so thinking about how you can achieve something similar through a virtual event can help it be successful.


    You can watch a recording of the entire conversation here.

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