How to build on the positives and embed successful practices

The first in a series of articles providing communications advice for each stage of the Construction Leadership Council (CLC)  Roadmap to Recovery , this post focuses on how to build on the positives for the first stage of the plan: Restart.

According to the timescales within the CLC’s Roadmap to Recovery, the ‘Restart’ phase is already done. Most construction sites have been back up and running since May, helped by regular guidance from industry bodies and membership groups, including the Site Operating Procedures published by the CLC.

So with construction still operational despite new restrictions and local lockdowns, you could be forgiven for skipping ahead to the next phase of the Roadmap. However, it is important to take stock first.

This is an important moment, both because of how it can help us now and because it is likely that Covid-19 will remain a threat for some time to come. As construction communications and marketing professionals, we still have work to complete in this ‘Restart’ phase.

Build on the positives

There will undoubtably be lessons learned from this period. What was done well in terms of internal and external communications? How did your website and other communication mechanisms hold up? What should be replicated and maintained for the future? Let’s not move ahead too fast without a moment of reflection.

On employee communications, it is now clear that remote working can be productive, and that online communication is effective. Moreover, it is possible to rollout technology and new ways of working much faster than previously thought possible.

Many internal communication changes were achieved quickly in lockdown. There are useful lessons to be gained from looking at what worked best in your organisation during the early days of the crisis, when so many activities were put on hold and capacity was lost as staff were furloughed.

The next step is to reflect on any successes and then share them. Telling your staff, customers and even the wider industry about what you’ve learned will make the positives stick. It may also provide the playbook for any future crises.

Time for communication

If you have not started already, you need to tell your customers and other stakeholders that not only are you open for business, but you are already gearing up for life post-Covid.

Avoid talking about “returning to normal” though. It is important to acknowledge the changes forced upon us all. Be upfront about any limitations that you are facing so that you can successfully manage expectations. At the same time, you need to build confidence that you are well prepared for the next stage.

Most of all, don’t go quiet. The rumour mill is in full force right now. Which companies are struggling? Are redundancies worse than expected? Where are projects being pulled? An old adage of communication is that, if there is a vacuum (i.e. you are not saying anything), someone else will fill it.

You need to make sure that you are the single source of truth for your customers, suppliers, employees and their families – keep them informed of what you are doing and how it impacts on them. It will help you to build and maintain your connections, networks and supply chains, essential in times of difficulty.

Reflect on your achievements

It is also important to look at any case studies you can develop as a result of this ‘Restart’ period.

In the construction industry there have been many examples of the supply chain coming together and delivering great results, despite the restrictions that Covid-19 caused.

One of the major feelgood stories was the NHS Nightingale initiative which saw a number of temporary hospitals delivered in a matter of weeks. It showed the best of what construction has to offer – creativity, flexibility and collaboration, underpinned by successful delivery.

Share your successes

Now is the time to share your own coronavirus successes, and to celebrate the people within your organisation who went above and beyond to help others during the crisis. In particular, take this time to remember, recognise and reward acts of kindness and helpfulness.

The media still wants to hear about the positive ways that companies dealt with coronavirus, as well as get a sense of what is happening now and what is likely to happen next.

Any PR content you do create can be used for your own channels too, either to promote internally, through social media or in direct communication with your relevant audiences. Even a short blog or simple video story is a good place to start.

Have a think about how you and your team have innovated and adapted this year and tell that story too. It will help provide a solid foundation for the next step and the ultimate aim of the CLC’s Roadmap – modernising the industry so that it delivers better, safer buildings for our communities.

If you’d like to learn more about construction communications throughout the Reset and Reinvent stages of the CLC Roadmap to Recovery, download our full e-book here.

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About the Author: Dan Gerrella

Dan is an associate director at LMC. He is a Chartered PR Practitioner who has spent his career in the property and construction sector, providing strategic PR and marketing advice to companies and organisations in the UK and internationally.

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