Managing in a Time of Crisis

May 18, 2020
Chris Neuner

Right now it’s easy to feel helpless and lost with all of the unknowns. Everything we learned as managers is being tested. With all of this uncertainty, there are things you can do right now to not only feel more purposeful and meaningful, but make an impact for your team members, your company and yourself.

As I write this, we are roughly 4 months from when WHO officially declared Covid-19 a pandemic. As a healthcare marketer who has spent over 20 years in the space, I have been asked by colleagues what they should be doing during this time and where can they have the most impact.

As I’ve reflected on this question, I’ve started to break it down into 2 areas:

  1. What you as a manager and colleague should think about
  2. What you should be implementing for your company

As a manager you should always:

  • Be present. Show your face on video, have daily meetings with your team and host events you would otherwise have in person, online.
  • Be compassionate. Earn the trust of colleagues and understand that your team is going through a lot both at work and at home.
  • Be honest. You are not expected to have all the answers all the time. It’s okay to admit when you just don’t know.
  • Be focused. Stick to your core values and team strengths. So much is changing at a rapid pace, and while you work to adjust your current marketing strategy, this is not the time to launch a new pilot you were planning six months ago. This is the time to evaluate how you and your company are responding to a crisis. Understand how to appropriately pause what you have been excited about launching and what you will need to do to restart those efforts in a new way.

What you should implement for your company:

Covid-19 is not a marketing opportunity. This is a time to connect with your stakeholders and lend a hand where needed. It is a time that is less about advertising and more about trying to be helpful, useful and providing pertinent information. 

Here are a few examples:

  • Automotive - they have changed their messaging to help consumers by offering lower financing and payment obligations.
  • Health Pharmacy - CVS is promoting home deliveries, when it is advised we all stay in.

With this in mind, ask yourself, “how are you being useful to the frontline healthcare professionals?” Verizon is feeding them, Ford GE and 3M are building respirators, and so is Tesla.

Don’t come across as tone deaf. In this world there are lots of set it and forget it tactics. Evaluate what you had planned and what is about to run because you don’t want to be like Spirit.

Specifically in healthcare, personal promotion has come to a halt. Think about how you can use more digital means to reach physicians. And don’t forget to consider the timing of your messages and which physicians who might be on the front lines will respond (or not) to your messaging right now.

Take note of companies speaking out in positive and practical ways. Use your voice as a healthcare marketer to send internal and external messages that resonate, inspire and contribute positively to a society that needs your voice to break through the clutter more than ever.

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