Zoom screenshot of Bellmont team

Communicating, Collaborating and Connecting Amidst COVID-19

Suf­fice it to say the nov­el coro­n­avirus has impact­ed every aspect of all of our lives, and it’s just get­ting started.

Like many of you, we’ve can­celed our spring break trips, embraced social dis­tanc­ing and are set­tling into at-home time with our fam­i­lies. We’ve been work­ing remote­ly since last week to do our part in pre­vent­ing the spread of COVID-19. Our agency is pre­pared – we’ve had an often-used and suc­cess­ful work-from-home pol­i­cy for many years, and we’ve invest­ed in process­es and tech­nol­o­gy to ensure that we are acces­si­ble, respon­sive, proac­tive and secure. We’re for­tu­nate that the pub­lic rela­tions indus­try is one that allows a shift to a remote approach with few­er bumps in the road than others.

At Bell­mont Part­ners, we focus hard on col­lab­o­ra­tion and con­nec­tiv­i­ty, so in this uncer­tain time – when we’re phys­i­cal­ly sep­a­rat­ed – we want­ed to take a minute to offer a glimpse of how our agency life con­tin­ues to move along.

Although our office door is locked, we’re far from being shut down. In fact, we’re deeply involved in a lot of new work, almost all address­ing the unique and some­times unex­pect­ed chal­lenges the coro­n­avirus cri­sis is cre­at­ing, span­ning near­ly every com­mu­ni­ca­tions dis­ci­pline (not to men­tion, client industry):

  • Some of our clients are being impact­ed in an extreme­ly urgent way: We’re help­ing sev­er­al com­pa­nies on the front lines of the COVID-19 pan­dem­ic with a vari­ety of strate­gies and imple­men­ta­tion, from mes­sag­ing to cri­sis communications.
  • Oth­er clients are pro­vid­ing straight­for­ward, use­ful advice for busi­ness­es and con­sumers: We’re help­ing R3 Con­tin­u­um, a leader in glob­al dis­rup­tive event man­age­ment, share advice for guid­ing busi­ness­es through the out­break. We’re also col­lab­o­rat­ing with a finan­cial ser­vices client on its mes­sag­ing around the roller­coast­er virus-fueled mar­kets, even pro­duc­ing a ful­ly remote podcast.
  • Oth­ers are respond­ing to the crit­i­cal needs laid bare by the virus. We’re con­nect­ing media with Sec­ond Har­vest Heart­land, one of the nation’s largest food banks, to share the height­ened need for vol­un­teers and dona­tions. Sec­ond Har­vest is putting togeth­er emer­gency food box­es, which they’re dis­trib­ut­ing via their dri­ve-throughs to min­i­mize per­son-to-per­son con­tact. The orga­ni­za­tion also just announced an ini­tia­tive that part­ners with Min­neso­ta restau­rants to use their qui­et kitchens and idle staff to feed the hungry.
  • Still oth­ers are refram­ing their event strate­gies: We’re work­ing with The Loft’s Word­play fes­ti­val to rein­vent itself as a vir­tu­al event, and pro­vid­ing coun­sel to numer­ous clients to mod­i­fy the news they were expect­ing to announce at now-can­celed trade shows or fundrais­ing events. Will events lat­er in May, June or July be impact­ed, as well? We’re not sure. How about the Min­neso­ta State Fair this sum­mer? We’re work­ing to pre­pare for any contingency.

And we’re help­ing near­ly every oth­er client plan for where this could all go. Through it all, we find our­selves empha­siz­ing a few key prin­ci­ples no mat­ter what the spe­cif­ic sce­nario may be:

  1. Stick to the facts. It’s okay if you don’t have all the answers, and it’s okay to say so. Relay the facts that you can to the audi­ences that need to hear them.
  2. Keep peo­ple informed. As things change by the minute, com­mu­ni­cate updates on a reg­u­lar basis – espe­cial­ly to your employ­ees and oth­er key audi­ences. In the absence of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, rumors can begin and cause even more wor­ry and confusion.
  3. Adapt, adapt, adapt. None of this is nor­mal, and we can’t expect our com­mu­ni­ca­tions to fol­low their nor­mal paths either. Whether it’s turn­ing an event into a vir­tu­al fes­ti­val, or record­ing and pro­duc­ing a pod­cast remote­ly, we’re all adapt­ing on the fly. It’s not ide­al, but maybe we’ll find some new, bet­ter ways of work­ing in the process.

Just like every­one else, we don’t know what the future holds, but we’re rolling up our sleeves (and yes, some­times work­ing in our sweat­pants) to do our part in pre­vent­ing the spread of COVID-19 and sup­port our clients as we all nav­i­gate these unchar­tered waters.

Along the way, we’re work­ing hard to stay as con­nect­ed as we can. How about you? We’d love to hear more about how you’re approach­ing this unprece­dent­ed time, includ­ing how your team is stay­ing in touch. And if there’s any­thing we can do to assist you in COVID-19 com­mu­ni­ca­tions, please let us know.

We’ll con­tin­ue to pro­vide updates as this all unfolds. In the mean­time, stay safe, everybody.

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