Have a Plan - A cohesive communication plan is critical at this time. Make sure everyone from your officers, e-board, stewards, organizers, et.al. is "singing off of the same song sheet". Sounds simple and self-evident, but at a time when news is changing by the hour, things can fall through the cracks, rumors begin to bubble up, and having a consistent plan and message will assure your members that you and your entire team are working hard on their behalf. In times of crisis leaders lead, and leadership is sorely needed now more than ever. Don't take it for granted that everyone is on the same page, call a meeting or a conference call.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate through multiple channels:
1) Social media posts - Post substantiated information that is relevant to the members and the state of your Local, the job market, benefits, etc. as you get it in real time. In the absence of information, the mind goes to some dark places by default. Be the light. No need to post something that is not substantiated yet, but even if it's something you think everyone knows, they may not.
2) Monitor your feeds and respond to comments - Conversation on social media is ongoing, so monitor your (or have someone on your team designated to) monitor your posts after they are published. All the more reason for everyone on your team to be on the same page. That lets your members know you are on top of it and you are listening to their concerns in real time. There are some wild rumors out there and some people are going to sling mud, but answer every comment in an empathetic and honest way. Others who read your comments will see that your heart is in the right place and you are doing all you can in the best interest of the members and their families. Even when people post positive comments, a simple "Thank you, brother. We are all in this together" is helpful.
3) Daily Recap email - This can be long or short, doesn't matter. Just receiving an email from the business manager keeps it top of mind. Also some of your older members may not be active on social media but they do have email.
4) Video updates - Video updates can easily be done with a smartphone and a tripod from home and easily published on your social feeds. There is something about seeing and hearing a leader deliver information in a calm and measured manner that leaves members and their families feeling reassured and lowering their anxiety.
5) Shore up your direct communication portals - Everyone is glued to their phones, and SMS/Text message updates can easily be set up where you can gather mobile numbers from members and their spouse as another channel to send out information. You can get direct to the point then include links for more info. If you need help, let us know.
6) Podcasts- Union Up is a podcast that we will do for you complimentary so that you can have another way for those in your area to hear from you. We've also done a roundtable discussion among 2 or 3 business managers at a time in different areas of the country that works well, allows BM's to share ideas, and makes for interesting and relevant content. We are happy to do this for you during this most critical time.
7) Review your media messaging - Some Locals have media campaigns on radio, tv, digital that may have messages that are not relevant at this critical time. Nothing says you're out of touch like irrelevant ads and messages.
8) Don't forget the good ol' telephone - Even if your office is closed for social distancing purposes or you are working with a skeleton staff, assign someone to answer the phone live and extend the hours they are available. Nothing soothes the soul more than having a live human being answer the phone when someone calls. Now may be a good time to circumvent your auto-attendant if you have one. If someone leaves a voicemail, call them back asap.