COMMUNICATIONS PLANNING FOR UNEXPECTED SCHEDULE CHANGES

One of our clients had an event scheduled two Saturdays ago, which was right in the heart of the initial forecasts for feet and feet of snow (well, maybe inches… but a lot).  As important as blasting out the invitations and information via email marketing, website and social media platform before the event, it was equally (if not more important) to have a plan in place in the instance the open house was cancelled.

When planning an event (or manage day-to-day operations for a business), take some time to draw up a cancellation/postponement communications plan. Here are some items and procedures we outlined:

Plan a time to decide “Go” or “No Go”

You’ll want to decide a time that will allow enough of a window for your customers to cancel or modify their plans. For instance, this recent event began at noon, so we wanted to make the final call by 10AM.

Create Communications Checklist

You’ll want to create a checklist of all the platforms in which you’ve invited guests.  This will ensure they can receive the information on various platforms – and takes out the guess work for hitting all your communications mechanisms.  Here is a brief checklist that we created:

  • Email
    • Send email blast to all individuals who we sent to invitations
  • Social Media
    • Post social media updates across all utilized platforms
      • Facebook
      • Instagram
      • Google My Business
    • Modify the Facebook Event Page to “Cancelled”
  • Website
    • Upload a quick blog regarding the cancellation of the event.
  • Phone System Message
    • Set the office telephone greeting to include a brief message regarding the cancellation of the event.

While it turns out we received only three inches of snow and the event went on as originally scheduled, it provided a good opportunity to develop a communications plan.  In addition, you’ll find that once you create one of these, the next one will take only 10% of the time for tweaking specific details.

COMMUNICATIONS PLANS AREN’T JUST FOR BIG EVENTS

While the recent communications plan originated because of an invitation-driven event, it’s important to have procedures and checklists put in place for any unforeseen circumstances (snow storms, power outage, water mane break, etc.). Whether you own a pizza shop, jewelry store or you’re running a volunteer effort, create a brief checklist of tasks that will help inform potential customers of your schedule changes.

For instance, your checklist may include only one or two of these:

  • Post an update on Facebook
  • Create a special answering machine message
  • Change your ours to “CLOSED” on your Google My Business account.

A sure fire way to lose a customer (or at least get them really upset) is to have them drive to your establishment and they arrive to locked doors and shut off lights.

In addition to the Open House, this post is timely right now, as I swung by a local pizza shop Saturday evening only to find out they were closed (while everything online claimed they were open).  As I previously mentioned, that left a sour taste in my mouth regarding that business, and it allowed Spak Brothers Pizza to climb near the top of the list!

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