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What Coronavirus Means for Your Event Business

When crisis hits an industry known for celebrations, love and positivity, it can be hard to know what to say on social media. Should you carry on as if nothing has happened? Should you continue to feature past events? Should you stop posting all together? Should you post your canceling and rescheduling policies? And how can you position yourself to continue to attract new clients?

Suddenly, it feels like social media got serious and it can be confusing and daunting to know what to say when everything we did and said last month seems irrelevant at best and tone-deaf at worst. Here are a few tips to help you navigate the stormy waters of posting to social media during a crisis.

Adjust your social media strategy.

In the time of any type of crisis, your standard social media strategy isn’t going to work. If you’re pre-scheduled out a few months, you need to go in and audit what needs to be removed to avoid coming across as tone-deaf or insensitive. It doesn’t mean you can never post them — you just can’t post them right now. Shelve them for now and revisit those posts when the crisis has blown over.

Once you’ve done that, you can go back to the drawing table to create new, relevant content. A great way to develop content is to start by listening to couples on social media and in wedding forums. What are they saying? What are their concerns and how can you help to address them? With your ear to the ground, you’ll be in a better position to provide solutions and meet couples’ needs.

Create an FAQ document.

When a crisis strikes, communication is crucial — yet, we’re often fielding questions and requests from multiple directions, which can make it challenging to respond to everyone effectively. Accuracy and consistency is key, so consider creating an FAQ document that compiles answers to all of those most-asked questions you gathered while listening on social media. This could include your company’s policies for cancellations and postponements, guidelines from reputable organizations, and other relevant information.

When you have a single document with updated information, you can easily spread consistent information in all of your communications. Add it to your email and social media auto-responders to field incoming inquiries; people prefer self-service when possible, so this already aligns with the expectations of today’s clients. If you use an agency or in-house social media manager, make sure they know how to access and use the FAQ document.

Note: Before releasing this document to the public, have a lawyer review it to ensure you’re not trapping yourself in a corner. One misstep online and your business could be in hot water beyond the pandemic, so it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Protect your business at all costs.

On the other side of this crisis, you want your business to continue thriving. That’s why it’s so important to have a lawyer to back you up. If it takes some time to have a lawyer go through your messaging and bless it, be open and transparent about it. Say something along the lines of, “Great question, I want to make sure that I get you the most accurate information possible. Please give me 24 hours to respond. I will get back to you as soon as I can.”

This approach will safeguard your business from public missteps, while still providing your clients with the respect and professionalism that they deserve. In a situation where false claims and misleading information run prevalent, our commitment to accuracy must outweigh the need for an immediate response. Talking policy on social media is no joke, so get approval before shooting from the hip and catching yourself in a sticky situation.

Be proactive in planning for recovery.

When you’re in the middle of a crisis situation, it can feel like there’s no room to even consider what life will look like after the fact. But, everything is temporary and a crisis will end — including the current coronavirus pandemic. So, you need to be forward-thinking and ask yourself where you want to be on the other side of this. How can you carve out your role in the industry to remain top of mind throughout this situation and beyond?

This could mean being extra generous with your colleagues, supporting them in any way possible. You could share reliable and insightful content from influencers about dealing with COVID-19. You can post feel-good content to lift the spirits of your clients and partners. Being an active and engaged member of your community during a crisis will go a long way once it’s behind us. We will recover stronger and faster together than we would individually.

Naturally, we don’t know how every stage of this (or any) crisis will play out until it does; thus, we can’t plan too far in advance when we’re thrust into an evolving situation. By remaining active and engaged within your community and promoting messages of hope and forward progress on social media, you’ll put yourself in a great position to succeed as a business and support the industry as a whole during post-crisis recovery.

 

Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that bring in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA, and the ABC Conference.

 

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Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that bring in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator who recently presented at NACE Experience in both 2017 and 2018.

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