COVID-19 is a black swan event, and business as usual isn’t possible. In our current situation, we have the opportunity and obligation to create a place of emotional safety for our audiences, our colleagues, and our loved ones. How we see the current situation, choices we make, and how we act directly reflect our point of view. Actions, after all, speak louder than words and promises.
Our interconnectedness in the digital world makes it easy to find examples of companies creating safe places for their audiences out of compassion, grace, and empathy. Here are three examples that might inspire you.
Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden understands that a pandemic means no zoo visitors. Closing the facility directly impacts their bottom line. They also saw a need to help others as schools across the nation are closing. They put their mission to create adventure, convey knowledge, conserve nature, and serve their community into action by creating the Home Safari Facebook Live event. Each afternoon at 3pm EDT, they livestream original content followed by an activity kids can do at home to reinforce the lesson. Youngsters get high-quality content, parents get a break, and the zoo lives up to its mission.
Senior living communities can follow suit, albeit without the charms of Fiona the hippo or Moe the sloth. If you’ve canceled an informational event, why not livestream it? But don’t stop there. With groups of 10+ being frowned upon, why not stream a performance by a guest musician or a lecture? What can be done in person can be a live event streamed through social media.
Few people look to law enforcement for inspiration, but that changes if you follow Oconee County Georgia Sheriff’s Office on Facebook. On an ordinary day, you can count on them to post wry and humorous comments about the foolish questions they get and local situations they encounter. When facing a crisis, the direct, no-nonsense, yet compassionate posts will lift your spirits. The way they speak to their huge audience (142,000+) is a masterclass.
Tone-deaf social media posts are popping up everywhere. Southwest Airlines is one example, promoting their $49 sale when hardly anyone is flying. It’s time to take a second look at your social content and check that you’re on message without bringing the doom and gloom. Brush up on your videos skills and put your CEO front and center the way Collington, A Kendall Affiliate did with their update on Facebook. They’re also balancing COVID-19 informational posts with content that isn’t about the virus. Finding the right mix might require some trial and error, but business as usual isn’t the appropriate approach.
Share in New Ways
Numerous brands are sharing excellent content for home-bound audiences. Open Culture.com offers free coloring books from 113 museum collections for download. Google has a website with 3-D tours of five national parks from Alaska to the Dry Tortugas. The Google Arts & Culture website features 2,500 museums around the globe you can visit digitally. If you just want to get away from everything, head to the Access Mars website for a 3-D tour of the Martian surface from NASA.
It’s difficult to compete with world-class art and Mars, but looking at the way this information is presented can generate ideas about how to share what makes your senior living community special. Tap a colleague who loves creating videos and ask them to brainstorm new ideas about showcasing your facility. Consider recording community member responses to direct questions or facilitating video calls between members and their families. If personal tours are limited, why not update your floor plans? Or better yet, replace floor plans with 3-D renderings that can be downloaded with to-scale furniture so potential members can see how their belongings will fit.
Connect and Care
Change is something we resist, but we can turn this black swan event into an opportunity to connect in different ways and learn new skills. Test-drive new communication programs by setting up digital meetings between colleagues working from home. Tap into your coworkers’ abilities to troubleshoot under pressure and give them the chance to share new ideas and technology.
In his 2002 Marquette University commencement address, Fred Rogers said, “...because deep down we know that what matters in this life is much more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win, too, even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.”
COVID-19 is imposing a course change. We can embrace it with grace to provide safe spaces for our audiences, both real and digital. For more ideas on how to succeed in the face of fear, reach out to Maribeth at Sabal Group.