Adopt our AGILE method to thrive amid crisis

Don’t call this just a crisis. The size and scope of COVID-19’s impact is something that few people and businesses have ever had to think about. Social distancing aside, this is not the time for brands to fortify their metaphorical walled gardens. In instances of incredible uncertainty, it is the time to think about how we as individuals and as businesses take a fresh look at our impact in our local communities and how we respond.

As a full-service advertising agency, our daily responsibilities ebb and flow around creating solutions, content and delivering strategic communications on behalf of our clients. However, as we acclimate to changes in a COVID-19 world, now is the time for brands to remain AGILE. This acronym is one of our core capabilities that guides business in times of crisis to ensure all internal and external communications, from memos to social media to paid advertising, are not just consistent but relevant.

What does being AGILE mean?

A – Anticipate and Act
Don’t wait and react. Begin planning now for every potential scenario, even those that are so wild that they can hardly be imagined. It is far better to be overprepared and understand how to act and communicate across all aspects of the business, including vendors, employees, customers and community members.

This also means communicating frequently and with brutal transparency. It’s okay to follow up with new information. Just don’t be caught flat-footed without a plan to deal with next steps.

G – Good matters
Businesses need to take care of employees/customers first. The brands and businesses that do not take care of employees and customers first might not see either come back after any hard times or crisis pass. We all have bottom lines, revenues and cash flows to maintain. However, this is also not the time to squeeze clients, vendors or customers or to take advantage of employees. Brands are built for the long-term, but they can be destroyed in a matter of days. Play the long game.

When businesses have valuable resources that can help those in need, consider donating them to local/national charities and communities. If employees have idle hands and can help, develop ways to organize and activate them. There is never a bad time to start or increase philanthropic work, dream up once-in-a-lifetime ideas or tackle housekeeping items that have stayed on the back burner.

I – Innovate
Now is the time to pivot what businesses do and make. Brand, teams and partners all have superpowers. Activate them to create real value for people in need.

What problem can brands solve for the community right now, amid new environments, concerns and challenges? Provide value to them first. Businesses may change in the long-term, so embrace the opportunity to be creative in totally new ways.

L – Lead or Let it Go
In times like this, there are millions of messages flying around. Not every brand is going to be relevant right now, and that’s okay. Either be a leader in fostering positive change or commit to staying out the way. That doesn’t mean do nothing. Don’t forget to anticipate and act. Brands should be planning and paying attention now more than ever.

E – Evaluate
Circle the wagons across PR, Internal Comms, Operations, Marketing, Media, Social Media and Digital teams. Look at every message currently in the market and scheduled to debut and determine what needs to be taken down or paused from publishing. Being a relevant brand means being self-aware to ensure that conflicting or tone-deaf messages do not reach stakeholders.

In the end, don’t let uncertainty or fear cause you to retreat. It’s time to do the opposite, and if you need help, we’re more than willing to partner with you.

About the Author: Jason is the VP of Public Relations and Social Media at OH Partners. He’s a communications executive with over 15 years of experience across a diversified and has seen his fair share of crisis situations. Through all of it, he believes in challenging conventions and driving creative solutions and communications plans that add real value and breakthrough.

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