When COVID19 hit hard mid-March 2020, meeting planners and executive directors may have been left struggling with how best to communicate with their delegates, members and other stakeholders about the next steps. Below you’ll find some tips and things to keep in mind when preparing your crisis communications for meetings.
First and foremost, if you do not have a crisis communications plan already in place, take a few moments to brainstorm and develop the following:
- Identify your stakeholders – this is a list of all that are impacted by the change or cancellation of your event
- event staff and volunteers
- venue, AV and other contracted services
- Identify who will communicate on behalf of your organization – it may yourself as the planner, or it may come from another member of your team. Be consistent in who will be at the front of the communications to avoid confusion later on.
- Identify when you’re going to communicate and how often – communications should start as early as possible, and be frequent enough to answer any questions that will arise as time marches on
Below are some best practices for when you start to share information to your stakeholders. Please note, the tips below are courtesy of a webinar I did through Meeting Professionals International, Lots of great advice from Alex Plaxen, MTA of Nifty Method Marketing + Events.
Here is a summary of best practices as shared by Alex:
- Be transparent – uncertainty can cause confusion and panic
- When communicating updates about monitoring the situation, provide proof points (ie links, consolidated updates, recommendations from government and health authorities etc)
- Empathize about your stakeholders situations
- Pin updates at top; don’t delete updates- deleting can lead to mistrust
- Email is still most effective and versatile way to communicate
- Establish expectations – tell stakeholders where and how often you intend to communicate.
- Check with your conference location’s CVB website, and share with attendees
- Monitor your social media to respond to questions and comments9.
- Consistency is key – update dates across all platforms to avoid confusion
- Don’t wait to communicate. If registration is open, you should start communicating.
Any questions about a crisis communications strategy for YOUR organization, please ask!
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