COVID Communication Checklist + Free Messaging TemplatesAug 17, 2021
Oh dear, regional NSW, here we are again! If your business has recently been negatively impacted or closed down due to the coronavirus, firstly – we’d like to extend a heartfelt apology and a virtual hug. I don't think any of us expected to be back here again and this uncertainty that looms is certainly not great for business!
To try and make things a little easier for you during this time we have prepared a communications checklist that in the case that you need to shut down your business or significantly change operation.
1. Google My Business
Your Google My Business page is possibly the first page that your customers will come across as they search on Google to see whether your business is operating during the lockdown. In 2020, Google added a specific posting category where you can add a ‘COVID-19 Update’.
It is really important you update this for your customers who may not be part of your social media communities, or on your database. You will need access to your Google My Business page (separate to your website) and you can update this via the ‘Posts’ section, which can also be used as a secondary social media feed.
Also, if your business hours have changed don’t forget to update the ‘Info’ section.
2. Social Media Announcements
People are checking their social media channels prolifically for updates. For this reason, we recommend that you use your social media pages for regular day-to-day updates on your organisation’s plan. Ways you can do this include:
- Publish an informative post outlining your plan of action and pin this to the top of your Facebook page. For a personal touch, you could have your CEO or business owner deliver this message via video. If you do include a video, be sure to include the main points in the post copy so people can find the information they are looking for quickly.
- You can also update your Facebook cover page or LinkedIn company page header with information outlining your closure / changes.
- Dedicate an Instagram story highlight to your COVID-19 updates. This can be removed at a later date and is a good way to provide shorter messaging around progressions.
3. Website Pop Up / Banner
Your website will also be one of the places your customers will check to see where your business is at. Ask your web developer to create a popup or a header banner for your website that includes key information about business closures or reduced operations.
A message can be as simple as:
“Please note: We are closed until further notice. Check our social media for regular updates.”
Or it can be a more extensive letter such as:
“Important Message from the [CEO]
It is with a heavy heart that we inform you that [Your Organisation] will be closed from [date] until further notice due to COVID-19.
We aim to support our staff as much as possible during this time.
[Here you can include ways you may still be operational (i.e. takeaway food and drink, online store, zoom consultations, etc.)]
As we continue to monitor the situation closely, we will keep you informed via our social media, newsletter and website. For broader information, please refer to the official Australian Department of Health website.
Please stay safe and well.
[Your Name] [Your Position]”
4. Email Newsletter
Don’t forget to inform your email database with a letter from the owner or CEO.
Mailchimp is a great free tool you can use to send professional email newsletters if you don’t already have a software to do this with.
Try to keep the email as succinct as possible, whilst addressing all the measures your organisation has taken. People are receiving email updates constantly from organisations, so make sure you lead with your organisation’s largest change and put it in the subject line.
“COVID Update: We are still open.”
“COVID Update: We have [opened an online store], [started online consultations]”
“COVID Update: We are closed until further notice.”
4. Letters to customers or clients
If you have customers and clients who you think may not receive news of your closure via your digital communication channels, write them a brief letter informing them of your movements.
6. Automatic response or instant replies
It is likely your business is receiving an influx in communication from clients and customers checking in or asking questions. To manage this influx and set expectations around when your customers will receive a response add automatic replies to your company inboxes and Facebook account. This will help manage their expectations and buy you some response time.
Email automatic response example:
Subject: Your email is important to us.
Thank you for getting in touch. The team at [Your organisation] are committed to supporting you during this difficult period.
We are currently in the process of responding to our clients and as we are sure you can appreciate, this has been a busy period.
Over the next [time period e.g. week, fortnight], we may not be able to respond as quickly to your email and phone calls. We apologise if this causes any inconvenience at this time.
If your enquiry is urgent, please call [12 345 678 90] or email [[email protected]].
Please note, in the interest of keeping our clients and staff safe, we are conducting phone and online communication only at this point.
We will be posting updates about [Your organisation] via our website, social media and newsletter.
[Your Name] [Your Position]”
Facebook instant replies example below:
On Facebook you can set up automatic responses that are called ‘instant replies’. The message can be shortened and can direct customers where they can go. Learn how to set up instant replies here.
A suggested message could be:
“Hi there, thank you for getting in touch, your message is important to us. We are currently experiencing an influx of questions and enquiries from our customers during the period of COVID, which means we may not be able to respond as quickly as usual. We apologise if this causes any inconvenience. If your enquiry is urgent, please call [12 345 678 90]. Stay safe and well – the [your organisation] team.”
7. Dedicated FAQs on website
If you are receiving common questions from your customers which can be easily answered – but unfortunately you just don’t have the time to respond directly. It may be very worthwhile to create a place on your website where you provide answers to these FAQs.
You can also ask your web-developer to create a button on the home page which directs people there straight away.
8. Phone calls
For those businesses who have major clients / customer accounts where your shutdown or operation changes could significantly affect their organisation, we highly recommend you pick up the phone and have this conversation with them directly. They will appreciate the direct communication and the opportunity to work through how these changes can be managed collaboratively to ensure that you both minimise negative impact.
9. Zoom consults
If you have a group of customers / members or stakeholders that could benefit from a group discussion, invite them to a virtual meeting via Zoom. With a Pro version of Zoom you can host up to 100 guests, see each other via video and share your screen if you need to go over key documentation.
If you would like more information about how best to invest in your marketing at this point, please give us a shout or read about our 8 low cost marketing activities to sustain you through the craziness of COVID.