March 18th, 2020 - Covid-19

Effective communications could help save your business during COVID-19

Situations that are high-concern, high-stress, and emotionally charged mean that your audiences can’t absorb information the way they normally do.

I reminded myself of this earlier today when my husband asked me for the fourth time if schools in our city were shut down. (Yes, yes they are, and they have been for a couple of days.)

With COVID-19 wreaking havoc around the world, we average human beings are simply not able to absorb and retain information that isn’t directly impacting our daily lives.

What does that mean for your business?

As a business owner, it’s frustrating. You want to get information into the hands of your customers. Important stuff. Your new cleaning protocols, hours of operation, social distancing policies. You need them to know this ‘stuff’, so they will trust you and keep buying from you. You need them to keep buying from you, so you can pay your rent, your mortgage, buy food and stay in business.

Why aren’t they listening?

During a crisis – and we’re now smack dab in the middle of the biggest crisis any of us ever lived through – people need to “understand that you care before they care what you know.” Something that leading expert Dr. Vincent Covello is known for teaching to top communicators around the world.

“People need to know that you care, before they care what you know.”

Dr. Vincent Covello

So when you are communicating with your audiences, always lead with compassion, with empathy. Yes, you are scared too, but your goal is not to simply tell them what you are doing or changing or working towards. Your goal is to show that you care, really truly and deeply care. Once you do, they’ll be more primed to listen and retain the rest of your message.

Here’s an example. I’ve seen it suggested over and over in the last week or so that restaurants, hair salons, and other service providers offer gift certificates for purchase online, so clients can support them now, for services or meals they’ll receive in the future. There’s one big problem with this that I see. Where’s the benefit to the client who is likely to be equally stressed about finances during this uncertain time.

A better offer would be one that highlights a compassionate incentive – a discount or 2 for 1 offer to be redeemed when things die down. Wrap that up in words that speak to care and concern and you’ve likely got a winner.

My partner in crisis communications, Jo Williams and I can help craft messages to go with offers like the one outlined above that will resonate with your clients despite the mental noise of the ongoing crisis. The goal of crisis communication is to build trust and credibility, produce appropriate levels of concern and guide actions.

For more information, please visit

We’ll be sharing information on this topic regularly. Watch this space for updates, or reply to this email to be added to our just launched online group where we are sharing resources and support for entrepreneurs struggling during this difficult time.

With gratitude,

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Founder, Blackcoffee Studio

Over the course of 15+ years, Shannon has grown Blackcoffee Studio out of a love for building brands and reputations. She serves up Blackcoffee as a morning ritual while caffeinating clients and readers on the regular. You can find her at


Blackcoffee Studio

Blackcoffee is a premium brand development agency, offering luxury brand experience to clients at home in Calgary, Canada and around the globe. Brands create experience, set you apart from the competition and drive growth. Anyone can bulid a business but only the exceptional can create a brand. Are you ready?

Shannon Larkins

Shannon Larkins

Hi I’m Shannon, founder of Blackcoffee Studio. A former reporter, spin doctor and politico, I now focus on using my powers for good.

I create mighty brands for clients and share their stories with the world. I’m also rather addicted to my nutty family, dogs with pushed in faces, Mexico and of course coffee … black.