Over the last few days, the nation has been racing against time and the inevitability of human contact to contain the outbreak of COVID-19, known as Coronavirus, in the United States. Some communities have been impacted more strongly than others, reporting more and more new cases of Coronavirus every day, while other communities are bracing for the impact of their first confirmed case.
Local grocery stores are empty, small businesses are shutting down or scrambling to shift their operations to accommodate mandated closures, and community programs and events are being cancelled. From the perspective of containing the outbreak and flattening the curve, these are all good things. But for the local economy and the morale of your community? Not so much.
As the leader or communications contact for your community, these are difficult times. Leading through uncertainty is the biggest challenge now, and for many leaders, this is their first time facing uncertainty on a global scale. We’ve put together some actions you can take to maintain some peace of mind in your community for the coming weeks.
Share a letter from the Mayor or Town Manager
No matter the size of your community, you have an elected or appointed leader. Have them draft a message to the community from a place of empathy, hope, and teamwork. Include information about how to sign up for your community’s most immediate news alert system, and shout out community organizations that are offering supplies or food for those that need them. With all of the cut and dry news being shared to keep facts straight, it’s important that this message feels human, compassionate, and calming.
Share information about the importance of flattening the curve
You may have seen the now infamous graphic of an outbreak curve, showing the importance of taking massive, sometimes extreme action, to keep the potential spread of a virus at a manageable level for healthcare professionals. This phenomenon, called “flattening the curve,” is a strong visual to demonstrate why it’s important that so many beloved events are being cancelled, why businesses are having to make hard decisions to close their doors, and why schools are shut down. By helping people understand the why behind it all, you not only support organizations in justifying their actions, you also emphasize why it’s so important that people practice social distancing.
Create an Information Center on your community’s website
With so much misinformation circulating, you want to be sure residents have the most accurate and up-to-date information about COVID-19, especially in regards to local confirmed cases of the virus, or local mandates around event cancellations, park closures, curfews, etc. One thing you can do is create a Coronavirus Information Center on your website. This can be one page that is constantly updated with a time stamp at the top of the last update, or a landing page that branches out to several other pages of information. This way you can direct your community to one central location to find the information they need.
Promoting local businesses while social distancing
Small businesses are struggling right now. From having to lay off staff to closing their doors to prevent the virus spreading, business owners are making really tough decisions that can have a huge impact on your local economy. Help them by promoting residents to support them in ways that still promote social distancing. To help, we’ve created a caption you can post on social media, along with a photo of your town:
In an effort to support local businesses that are promoting social distancing during this time, our community would like to recognize the businesses offering alternatives to purchase from their business. If you are the owner of a local business, please comment below with ways our community can continue to support you during this time. Maybe it’s a link to your online store, a number we can call to order takeout, or a way we can purchase a gift card to your business to use later. As more businesses comment and this post gets shared, we can all keep track of ways to support our local business owners. Thank you for everything you do for our community. #InThisTogether or #WeAre[TownName]
We understand that many communities are struggling right now, and the Mavens at Haven Creative want you to know that we’re here to support you with communications at this time. If you need help with graphics support, messaging, or communication strategy, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.