At times of uncertainty, such as this, members turn to their associations for guidance and leadership. “What should we do?” “How should we do it?” As their association it is your duty to demonstrate leadership, for without leadership, why should your members continue to be members?
This is not the time to bury your head in the sand. When the current crisis abates, all the ostriches will be out looking for business. Get ahead of the pack. Develop your authenticity today. Your association will become known for its leadership, and members like leaders. Plan now for future events. Think of alternative delivery methods. Interview the leaders of your industry. What are they doing? How are they handling the stress? Hold a virtual town hall meeting and open the floor for questions. Find out about available programs for supporting businesses in your sector during the crisis.
Be aware of social media for crisis management . Three lessons learned from Mojo Media Labs include:
- Have a PR plan in place, including social media response, with clear roles and scripts for those who need to respond immediately to a crisis.
- … be honest with your fans/followers when you flub-up. Social media folks are very forgiving, as long as you don’t use dishonest tactics to hide your mistakes.
- Be sensitive to the power of social media. Even a small issue like a silly comment or an unintentional coincidence that gets picked up by others on social media can quickly snowball into a PR crisis. Address even small complaints from your fans or others with grace and good sense.
Of Winston Churchill, while having many faults, during the second world war it is said that “people admired his energy, his courage, his singleness of purpose. People said they didn’t know what Britain would do without him.” It is courage your members are looking for, so give it to them.
Singleness of purpose is a great phrase. You have a goal and every day you put one foot in front of the other to achieve that goal. When this current crisis stabilizes you will be that much further down the track than other associations.
Reassure. Provide evidence of best practices. Tell stories of success against the odds. Tell the truth. Show leadership. Move forward.