Professional services firms take the lead in crisis comms for clients
14 April 2020
So often crises that impact businesses are sudden and have varying ripple effects. But the new world order of the coronavirus pandemic has introduced a different type of threat. We saw this disaster on the horizon, and we had time to prepare. We can anticipate an acceleration, and most importantly, we can soberly recognise its potential long-term impact, most significantly on the global economy.
Professional services firms – from international consultancies to leading law firms –embraced the uniqueness of this crisis and moved swiftly to create effective communications strategies that are robust and sustainable – critically important as the pandemic continues its slow conquest and extends news cycles beyond the expected.
As marketing specialists who follow closely the digital communications of the professional services sector, Living reviewed the top industry names to see how they’re handling news and information about COVID-19. Every firm we looked at has set aside dedicated areas on their websites to showcase pandemic-related articles, timely updates, dashboards, infographics and interactive tools. Frankly they’ve done a tremendous job deploying a full arsenal of devices to inform and educate their audiences.
A perfect example is how Deloitte has posted a traditional news dashboard to provide a daily update on information from the UK Government, as well as a global dashboard. Likewise, Herbert Smith Freehills provides regional-specific information, with content hubs covering the entire world, even beyond its office footprint. For website visitors to receive updated legal sector news pertaining to COVID-19, both Seyfarth and TLT offer a subscription service.
We’ve learned that many firms have deputised dedicated COVID-19 teams to monitor news reports and create client-centric content. Goodwin goes so far as to share its team’s bios and contact info, highlighting their specialisation. The focus, however, is on informing – and never on selling – but their expertise is evident all the same.While the firms are assuring their clients that they’re available for support in a ‘business as usual’ respect, everyone is acknowledging that the reality is ‘business as un-usual’ – with uncertainty the norm, and flexibility the requirement. EY offers a framework that focuses on four key response areas: People & Society, Business Continuity, Financial Viability, and Situation Management. The framework serves as a veritable checklist for what clients need to be thinking about – and EY backs up each area with more thought leadership.
In all, we’re seeing a smart and broad use of creative media, including a mix of social channels, newsletters, videos, and podcasts, each designed specifically to calm, reassure and even encourage clients. Winston & Strawn regularly posts on LinkedIn with branded social tiles, highlighting discussions relevant by geography and practice. Goodwin’s podcast series dedicated a specific episode to COVID-19’s Impact on White Collar Practitioners. And showing some integrated marketing muscle, Hogan Lovells developed a Crisis Leadership Portal with a self assessment, a checklist, case studies and an app, as well as an online tool to manage the risk of supply chain disruption.
Several firms are looking beyond the pandemic, counselling their clients to build resilience and reshape themselves for a post-crisis world. Deloitte has elevated its commitment by publishing an online resource to guide leaders through what it identifies as the three phases of a crisis: Respond, Recover, and Thrive.
We have seen ample evidence that professional services firms are responding with intelligence and resolve, and are well-positioned to help their clients through the recovery period, no matter how long that may be. The endgame goal is for all of us to return to the opportunity to thrive.
Greg Hobden – Managing Director, London, Living Group