Communicating in a Crisis
Since gatherings of more than five people are forbidden, concert performances are obviously among the first things to be cancelled — with an immediate effect on many artists’ livelihoods. When we received an email from Canadian singer and songwriter Steve Bell the other day, we fully expected to hear a plea for assistance. You’ll be surprised at what he wrote and what we can learn from his example.
Here’s what Steve’s email said.
Dear friends and supporters,
I just wanted to send out a quick note to let you know how I and the ministry are faring these days.
Only a few weeks ago, while on the road in Alberta, I started to get the feeling that we may need to cancel a concert or two… Wow! How quickly things have changed. Now I’m hoping we can be back to concerts before Christmas. I guess we’ll see.
However, this note is just to let you know that we are doing ok. Last year my advisory board encouraged me to work a little harder at developing my donor base in response to diminishing retail revenues of CDs. Little did we know what was coming. But what a difference it makes now.
I just got off the phone with my manager...
We went over various scenarios and took a line-by-line gander at our financials, and the news is somewhat encouraging.
This ministry currently has no long term debt, and because of last year’s efforts we actually have a little bit of a cushion to draw upon for the next few months. Between that, your support, some recently announced government assistance for small businesses, and a few austerity measures, we should be able to manage into the fall should things be shut down that long.
So, this is just to thank you all for your support. It means so much, and I believe the ministry your support enables is more vital now than ever.
Meanwhile, I am currently working on a new album of songs that’ll be ready by September. As well, I’ve begun to work on putting up a variety of videos online (short, in-house concerts and single songs) to encourage individuals and congregations over the next months.
Wow! What a great message — something worth sharing and certainly worth learning from.
A couple of things in particular impressed us.
1. Choose Integrity
The first thing to note is Steve’s decision not to exploit this global crisis and ask supporters for more money. Whether it didn’t even cross his mind, or he resisted the temptation to do so, his choice demonstrates a high level of integrity.
What is the tone of your message these days? Are you offering help or asking for help?
2. Choose to Communicate
Secondly, it’s admirable that even though Steve didn’t have any bad news to share, he still chose to communicate. So often organizations are motivated to communicate only when they are in need. How often has your organization reached out to say, “We’re doing okay thanks to you!” What empathy! Steve seems to understand that those who care enough about his art and his ministry to support him financially might also be concerned about his well-being. Steve is proactive in putting his supporters at ease. Steve’s choice to communicate is an act of kindness.
Have you been communicating with your client base? Do you know what they need to hear from you?
3. Choose to Embrace Change
The third thing to pay attention to in this message is what Steve says about embracing change. Acting on the advice he received from his board over a year ago is what makes this entire message possible in the first place. Crisis has a way of exposing both our weaknesses and our strengths. By choosing to change his business model in the face of changing markets, Steve was unknowingly preparing for even bigger challenges ahead.
What change have you been putting off? What has this crisis exposed in your organization? Weakness? Or strength?
4. Choose Gratitude
The last thing we want to take away from Steve’s note is the way he chooses gratitude over despair and keeps on with the work (a new album coming out!) Steve credits his board for their sound advice. He’s thankful for the positive financial reports he’s reviewed with his manager, and he thanks his supporters for their ongoing support.
Regardless of whether or not you appreciate Steve’s music, you must appreciate his integrity and professionalism. After a message like this, how could you not want this guy to succeed?
Thanks, Steve, for giving us a great example of how to communicate in a crisis.
Visit Steve's website at stevebell.com.
Written by Jason Bouwman, RGD
April 24, 2020