By Jeff Bradford, President, The Bradford Dalton Group
It has been almost a year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic, and unfortunately, we don’t have an answer as to when life will go back to normal, or even what the “new normal” will look like. Disruptions in the hard-hit construction industry – such as supply chain shortages and operational restrictions – continue due to the virus, and although a vaccine is now being administered, we’re still months away from nation-wide relief.
Progress is certainly being made, but it may be a while until the industry recovers to the point it was before the coronavirus made its appearance. Luckily, there are steps you can take now to ensure that your construction business survives and thrives through the remainder of the pandemic.
Use Clear and Consistent Communication
Nothing causes panic more than the lack of information. Your employees, investors, business partners, and even your local community are invested in your company, so it’s important to have a clear communication strategy that ensures your stakeholders are receiving the latest information. Fear can quickly rise in uncertain situations, so even if you don’t have the answers at the moment, assure them that information is coming soon.
In any communications you send, be sure to address these four key points:
You are Keeping People Safe
State what you’re doing to keep employees, customers and the community safe, such as increased sanitation efforts or social distancing standards. Educate your audience on how they can help and assure them that you are closely monitoring the situation and following the advice of trusted health authorities.
You Empathize With the Reader
Use personal experiences or anecdotes to remind your audience that we’re all going through these challenging times together. Doing so will help express believable empathy and encourage a connection between you and your audience so they will feel more comfortable expressing concerns or questions.
You are Thankful
Praise employees, customers and front-line workers for everything they do to ensure safety and for their hard work amid such uncertainty. This simple gesture makes your stakeholders feel valued while displaying your organization as a humble group of people rather than just a corporation.
Your Business Will Continue as (Somewhat) Usual
Reassure your customers, investors and employees that you’re not going anywhere. Lay out what your company is doing specifically to continue operation during the pandemic. Share how your values are guiding your actions and will help you emerge stronger.
Lastly, be sure relevant information, such as updated business hours or mask and social distancing requirements, is easy to find, like on the front page of your website or in a newsletter. People don’t want to dig for the latest updates when there are other things on their minds.
Build Your Reputation as a Thought Leader
Whether you’re known as a thought leader in the construction industry already or not, now is a great time to add to your resume.
Publishing thoughtful, informative content during this time will build your reputation and credibility among your target audience. Create relevant and timely written or video content to publish on a blog, in a trade publication or even in a local news outlet. Here are some things to keep in mind:
- Pay attention to what your target audience is reading and contribute to the same publications. For example, a commercial construction company would benefit from its CEO contributing to publications commonly read by commercial property owners. It does you no good to be featured in magazines or newspapers unless potential customers are reading it.
- See what’s being talked about and come up with a creative spin. Feel like you’re only reading about COVID-19? That’s because most people want to read about it, so publications are releasing regular content on the topic. However, the audience doesn’t want to read the same exact story over and over, so it’s important to add a unique take on the subject.
- Be original, but don’t go so far as to speak on a subject you’re not familiar with. Focus on topics that you know well and use personal anecdotes to increase your audience’s confidence in you and keep them engaged.
You’ll soon reap the benefits of sharing your ideas with other people in your industry and beyond as your business grows and you become a recognized, go-to expert in your field.
Establish a PR and Marketing Strategy
Even amid a pandemic, life still moves forward. Your construction company should start (or continue) to use public relations and marketing strategies to promote your business and remain at the front of your audience’s mind, especially considering people’s internet usage has increased due to COVID-19.
Social media is one of the best tools to take advantage of, and it’s right at your fingertips. If your company isn’t already established on the major social networks such as Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, start now. Build these profiles by strategically sharing content like company accomplishments, industry news, or behind-the-scenes looks at your business. Post content regularly to humanize the company at a time people feel more disconnected than ever. Plus, chances are people will stumble upon your profile and remember you in the future when they’re ready to make a purchase.
If you have a big project or announcement, use media relations to publicize the news. Work to build relationships with local and trade reporters at newspapers, magazines, and radio and television stations so that when you have an announcement about a project or accomplishment, they’ll be interested and willing to share. Bonus points if they will link back to your website.
Write SEO-optimized blogs that cover commonly discussed topics or questions in your industry. Somebody may Google “the best construction companies near me” and find themselves on your website if your blogging strategy is strong. Keeping your blog up to date allows you to engage with your audience and opens a door for future conversations.
Whatever content you decide to create, be sure it is written with the right tone and planned carefully.
Take Notes From Others
This pandemic is unlike anything we’ve ever been through in our lifetime, and everybody is learning best practices as time goes on. Analyze what your competitors or other relevant brands are doing right now. Pay attention to how they have adjusted their messaging as time goes on. If they’ve changed their strategy, it’s likely because they saw a need, so see if their stance in the market has changed as a result. The more you observe and learn from others, the quicker you can adjust your own strategy to be the most effective going forward.
The pandemic is certainly a challenge we never expected, but it also presents an opportunity for your business to emerge from the landscape stronger than ever before, and maybe even ahead of your competition. If you haven’t already, implement these strategies so you’ll be best prepared for the “new normal.”
Jeff Bradford is the president of integrated public relations and marketing agency The Bradford Dalton Group, heading up the Nashville office. He is a former journalist and has over 30 years of public relations and digital marketing experience. Jeff was named as a 2020 Marketing Influencer by GlobeSt.com
This material appears in the February 2021 issues of the ACP Magazines:
California Builder & Engineer, Construction, Construction Digest, Construction News, Constructioneer,Dixie Contractor, Michigan Contractor & Builder, Midwest Contractor, New England Construction, Pacific Builder & Engineer, Rocky Mountain Construction, Texas Contractor, Western Builder