Video should be an integral part of any effective enterprise communications strategy, but the business implications of COVID-19 are making it apparent just how important it is. This situation has illustrated the fact that even the biggest companies in the world can suddenly find themselves in the midst of a crisis.
Viral pandemic isn’t the only sticky situation that can derail your company. You should also be aware of other issues such as natural disasters, data breaches, social media gaffes, and PR meltdowns, among other things. This is why it’s so crucial to have an effective business continuity plan. By planning ahead, your organization is able to respond calmly and effectively to any scenario, while keeping up morale in the company and boosting confidence amongst customers and partners.
But sometimes, it isn’t enough to have a continuity plan written down on paper. The advent of video provides a unique opportunity for enterprises who want to breathe life into communications and confront the issues head-on with a human face. Here are some reasons you should integrate video into your corporate crisis communications strategy.
It’s Important to Visually Reach Employees During a Disaster
Decades of research have shown that visual content can be processed more effectively by the brain. In fact, one researcher found that watching a one minute video is the equivalent to hearing 1.8 million words. This makes video an exponentially more effective medium for critical information, allowing the messaging to have a higher level impact, understanding, and retention.
Disruptive events can create a host of issues for company leaders. Everything from lost productivity to employee assistance must be coordinated. It’s crucial that employees feel supported and hearing directly from the leadership team can help your teams regain a sense of normalcy in an uncertain situation.
While it may be tempting to just send an email or post something on your company intranet, enterprise video gives senior leaders more control over messaging. It’s an easy way to tell a story in a more personalized way that is engaging for everyone at your organization. Executive leaders should always convey a tone that emphasizes security and confidence. Be sure to position yourself as the voice of reason and stability during this crucial time, don’t make false promises, and provide a message that is hopeful, rather than despondent.
While these are external-facing communications, they are great examples of how your leadership team can use video for effective internal messaging during a crisis:
- Back in 2013, President Obama had a lot riding on the launch of the Affordable Healthcare Act website. When things didn’t go as planned, people started to lose faith in the government’s competency to roll-out such an ambitious initiative. In a great PR move, Obama attacked the issue head-on by appearing on Zach Galifinakis’ show, “Between Two Ferns”. The video went viral, reached new demographics, and helped mitigate the mess with humor.
- In the age of the cell phone, catching corporate blunders on video has become more ubiquitous. That’s exactly what happened to Starbucks in 2018 when two black men were kicked out of Starbucks, despite having done nothing wrong. The video spread like wildfire over social media, raising questions about racial bias in the company.
To combat the backlash, Starbucks President and CEO, Kevin Johnson, wasted no time taking responsibility for the incident and even went as far as posting a video apology on the company’s website. Video allowed him to respond quickly with messaging that was clear, direct, and reassuring. He also appeared on several occasions, taking full ownership of the situation at every turn.
- Whole Foods co-CEOs, Walter Robb and John Mackey, stepped up to the plate when customers discovered they were being overcharged due to improperly weighted fruits and vegetables. Both appeared on video, owned up to the blunder, making clear it was never their intention to rip off shoppers and outlined the steps they were taking to fix the issue.
Align Business Objectives
For most organizations, distributing effective company-wide communication is difficult on the best of days. But in times of crisis, lack of information can fuel rumors and misinformation which can quickly take the place of facts. Video gives leaders the ability to quickly produce content that succinctly explains the details surrounding a crisis, what actions staff should take, and the company’s strategy for reducing impact on business.
Once the initial shock of the crisis has passed, everyone’s attention will turn toward restoration efforts. As these endeavors get underway, it’s especially important to keep your workforce informed about next steps. Examples of things you may want to outline include, but are not limited to:
- Updated office hours for the days/weeks ahead
- Updated remote work policies
- How to log time off work due to disaster
- Child care policies
- Which parts of a building may be unsafe
- Road conditions
- Dress codes
- How to provide updates to your supervisor
Of course, next steps aren’t the only thing you should be providing clarity on. During a crisis, there’s a high probability that your employees will be distracted and off their game. They might be worried about the security of their jobs, their family, and feel isolated or disconnected if there have been work from home orders issued, as has been the case with the coronavirus pandemic. If your employees have been put into a position where business activities have been disrupted, video can help provide a quick directive for what to work on, and the expectations around timelines and deliverables.
Create a “Single Source of Truth”
Not only does providing clear, concise executive and team lead video communication get everyone on the same page, storing that information in a central location should also be part of your crisis strategy. By providing employees with a central repository for updates, key information is accessible to everyone at any time, regardless of location or time zone. This is easily accomplished with a portal like CircleHD, where assets are created, stored, organized and easily captured for posterity.
Encourage Employee Collaboration
Even when you’re not dealing with a crisis, video is still one of the most effective tools your company can use to call employees to action. A Gallup survey revealed that only 30 percent of full-time employees in the United States feel engaged at work. There is no doubt that this number gets amplified during times of unrest at work. This is why looking for alternative avenues of collaboration are so important and why video can support in a big way.
Encourage your workforce to create content like:
- Tips the department can use
- A problem they are working on and how they solved it
- Fun content that shows their office or workspace if telecommuting
- How they are spending their day
Employees are often a company’s most effective storytellers and an under-utilized content resource. Not only can you build team connections through effective video exercises, but it can also become good material for your marketing department to use externally.
Implementation and Best Practices
For video to become a natural part of your business continuity plan, you should employ the use of an enterprise video platform that can seamlessly integrate with your existing tech stack (we’re biased, but CircleHD is a great choice). These features are particularly important:
- Enterprise-grade security: You’ll likely be sharing sensitive information, so your platform needs to incorporate the latest security protocols to keep communication from getting leaked.
- Access controls: The capability to restrict viewing to specific groups, teams, and individuals should be available.
- Mobile-friendly: Information should be readily available, allowing your employees to access the most up-to-date information at any time, from anywhere, regardless of if they have wifi access or not.
- Analytics: Communication managers should have access to an extensive analytics suite that gives them insight into who is watching content, what they are watching and when. Utilizing these data points can also let you know who has seen your videos and who still needs to be informed.
Of course, there’s still this prevailing idea that creating video content is difficult or requires costly investment. With all the advances in technology, that adage is no longer true. Today’s enterprise video platforms are both easy to use and integrate seamlessly into existing infrastructure–whether your company has a dedicated media room, or you’re just using the built-in audio/video features on your computer.
More than any other type of corporate communication, your crisis messaging requires a high level of credibility and engagement that can only be produced by video content. People are 20 times more likely to retain information in the form of a story and video engages in a way that is not possible with text or still images, allowing you to convey the right message, to the right persons, at the right time.