A couple days ago, Crisis Ready Institute blogger Patrice Cloutier, published a great article on A Formula For Helping You Craft Your COVID-19 Crisis Communications. Since then, we’ve seen an example of how two sentences can make all the difference in your crisis communications, when we looked at how Zoom has proven to not be crisis ready. Today, I want to share a brilliant example of strong leadership and strong crisis communication put into practice.
The following is a series of internal crisis communications from the Founder and CEO of Mascot Books, Naren Aryal, to his team. These communications—individually and as a collective—are straight out of the Crisis Ready playbook (and will certainly be making their way into the next edition of Crisis Ready as a result). These communications hit every important note. For example:
- Timely and transparent: Note the dates of the communications. Naren keeps his team updated regularly and answers every question he can anticipate them having.
- Compassionate and empathetic: You can feel his heart through these communications. He regularly provides his cell phone number and speaks in a way that validates and relates to the emotions being felt by his team.
- Provides strategic foresight: He communicates how their clients will surely be feeling and how to continue to serve them, giving his team purpose and drive. He also communicates his own crisis management measures that are being implemented, providing his team with clarity and reassurance.
- Shows optimism, expresses gratitude and instills hope: When you read these communications, you know that Naren is not panicking. He’s taking care of managing the business through this crisis and he has his team’s best interest as his guiding beacon. He also makes his team the heroes of Mascot by showing appreciation and gratitude to each and every one by name for their efforts and continued support through these hard times.
The following is an exemplary display of true leadership. It is also an interesting depiction of the escalation and evolution of this world-crisis.
Side bar: Naren and Mascot happen to be the incredible publisher of Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World and I can attest that Naren shows this amount of true care and concern to his employees, his clients and his partners every single day. Mascot Books is one of those organizations that lives and breathes a crisis ready culture.
Note: the following is shared with full permission by Mascot Books, and all references to names, other than Naren’s and Mascot’s, have been changed for confidentiality purposes.
Crisis leadership: A look at how Mascot Books leads with heart, integrity and compassion.
***** Internal Crisis Communication: March 11th, 2020 *****
A few updates with respect to coronavirus, our policies, and next steps. First and foremost, this is a serious issue and will be treated as such. We’re closely following developments in Northern Virginia and surrounding areas.
As of now, we’re not instituting mandatory remote work. Companies across the country are taking it day by day, and we will do the same. This is unprecedented, and we’ll keep everyone apprised of decisions at Mascot as they are made.
If you are not feeling well, please don’t hesitate to work from home. This will be treated case by case, and we trust everyone to use their best judgment when coming into the office.
We’ll continue to closely monitor the situation in the coming days. If you have any questions, supervisors are available anytime to discuss.
***** Internal Crisis Communication: March 13th, 2020 *****
Another update regarding the coronavirus and next steps:
Effective Monday, March 16th, we will be moving to remote-only work. This is out of an abundance of caution and in line with other companies and schools in our area. We will evaluate status week by week and continue to closely monitor the situation. Look for another update next Thursday or Friday regarding the week of March 23rd.
Obviously, remote work poses challenges. We’ll do our best to make this a smooth transition, and team leads will discuss logistics and expectations with departments today. Once the coronavirus is under control, everyone will revert to normal in-office work.
Appreciate everyone’s flexibility during this time. Thanks.
***** Internal Crisis Communication: March 16th, 2020 *****
Good morning, all.
Appreciate everyone’s flexibility as we begin our first WFH week as we do our part to “flatten the curve.” Although you’re likely working alone this week, please know that you’re not really alone. If you need anything (or just wanna chat), you should feel free to reach out to a colleague, a supervisor, or call me any time. My cell phone is: 555-555-5555.
There’s obviously a lot of uncertainty presently, and just as Mascot is scrambling to adjust, our clients are surely doing the same. I’m guessing our authors will appreciate making progress on their passion projects, and we can help make that happen.
Good luck, stay safe … and keep up your social distancing!
(And this is where M sends the group a fitting meme or photo. Thanks in advance, M!)
***** Internal Crisis Communication: March 23rd, 2020 (1/2) *****
Note: Following the send-out of this email, Naren spent the day calling every single employee. You’ll understand why when you read the subsequent email he sent out on this same day.
Dear Team Mascot,
I know this is a stressful time for you and your loved ones. The impact of the coronavirus has touched every family and every business, including Mascot. In just a matter of days, we’ve gone from being on course for another year of growth to facing a world of uncertainty. There are many challenges ahead of us—the largest of which is not being able to predict when life (and business) will get back to normal.
We’ve been working diligently on a go-forward plan in light of the current environment. We’ll be reaching out to everyone today by phone to discuss the situation in greater detail.
I know this message doesn’t provide much comfort in these uncomfortable times, but I wanted to be as transparent and timely as possible with information.
***** Internal Crisis Communication: March 23rd, 2020 (2/2) *****
Thank you all for taking the time to speak with me today. Our conversations weren’t easy as there is no easy solution. I appreciate everyone’s understanding and greatly value the sacrifice each of you are making. I’m sure everyone has questions, so I hope to provide more information now.
Unfortunately, as you all know, we’ve had to let some valued employees go. These decisions were not made lightly, and we regret that we’ve lost some exceptional individuals due to this crisis. The following employees were let go:
Beginning next week, M, C, and L will likely be working on a per project basis as contracted freelancers. We’ll be in touch with further information and definitive next steps later this week.
Today was an incredibly difficult day. If anyone would like to talk again or has questions, please don’t hesitate to call or text.
***** Internal Crisis Communication: April 2nd, 2020 *****
Anyone else looking forward to that next team happy hour at Jimmy’s Tavern?
It’s been an unbelievable few weeks. Everyone’s been impacted by the current crisis, but my sincere hope is that you, your family, and all your loved ones are safe and taking all the precautions our government is urging. Taking care of each other supersedes all else. If I can do anything for any of you, please just call me. My cell phone: (555) 555-5555.
Like every other company in the world, the pandemic has created uncertainty here at Mascot. Just three weeks ago, we were well on our way to hitting our goals for 2020, including adding staff, re-tooling our processes, and generally getting ready for the next phase of growth. Then this. Fortunately, we’ve entered into this crisis on solid footing, but without knowing the length or severity of the crisis, we had to make some difficult decisions. Our amazing clients (and their families) are also struggling, and for many of them, working on their book represents a creative outlet, a passion project, or a new and valuable tool in their thought leadership platform. They’re looking to us to keep their projects moving forward with the utmost care and professionalism. My hope is that things across the country and the world will improve soon.
Now for some updates:
– Remote Work. We’ll continue working from home through at least the end of April. We’ll be cautious and follow the government’s guidance.
– Government Stimulus. We’re hoping to take advantage of the small business loans the government has announced and all the benefits they would provide. We’ve gathered our documentation and will be submitting our application tomorrow when the window opens. This loan would provide an extra layer of security for the company and help us get back on track for our original 2020 plans. Please know that I am fully aware that you have all made sacrifices over the last few weeks, and Team Mascot remains my number one priority. Thank you, again.
– Acquisitions. The acquisitions team continues to do a great job bringing in high-quality projects. Despite the current crisis, we improved on our March 2019 numbers by nearly 5% this March. Our Q1 2020 new author contracts have increased by over 35% compared to the same period last year. These are impressive results and provide ample production and marketing work for the coming months ahead. Until the economy rebounds, we’re anticipating our acquisitions efforts will grow more challenging. However, we’re in good hands with this team. Thank you, K. Thank you, B. Thank you, J. Thank you, H.
– New Partnership. We had a big win last week that I’m excited to announce. Because of the great job we did on [Author’s name and author’s book title], we received introductions to [name] (and we’re working on his Amplify book now) and his boss, [name]. [Name] also runs [Business name], a company that [short description]. H attended an event by [Business name] and came away with a few fantastic Amplify projects. We’ve reciprocated by introducing [Name] to several of our authors that could benefit from their program, and because of all this, we’ve entered into a partnership with [Business name]. This partnership has already resulted in seven qualified thought leaders who are interested in our help with their book projects. Big win indeed.
– Production. What can I say here except: thank you. Thank you, K. Thank you, N. Thank you, E. Thank you, N. Thank you, L. This team has done an incredible job of taking on more projects and keeping everything moving forward. And they aren’t alone. The designers have also been doing incredible work as well. Thank you, R. Thank you, D. Thank you, M. Thank you, L. Thank you, C. Production is the backbone of Mascot and that’s never been more apparent as it has been over the last few weeks.
– Marketing. C and A are stepping up. Big time. Publishing dates are being pushed out, but we still have important engagements and ongoing corporate marketing initiatives. Thank you, C. Thank you, A. Marketing is in good hands and we’ll be ready when book launches return.
– Bookkeeping. With the help of L and A, D continues to keep the administrative side of the house functioning. On top of everything else, we’re in the process of implementing new royalty software, which has taken a lot of D’s time. The only thing D hasn’t been able to figure out yet is how to implement a virtual candy dish. Thank you, D. Thank you, L. Thank you, A.
Once again, I appreciate everyone’s efforts. I’ll be sure to keep everyone posted as things evolve.
Put this crisis communication example to use for you and your team
As you work through your own organization’s crisis management of COVID-19, I hope this inspires you to keep fighting the good fight, keep prioritizing people over process and bottom line, and keep leading with both strategic foresight and compassion.
I’d also like to extend a massive ‘thank-you’ to Naren and his incredible Team Mascot. Not only for allowing me to showcase your exemplary demonstration of true leadership, but for taking care of me, one of your clients, with heart, integrity, attention to detail, and compassion since day 1.