Roundtable #6: Crisis Communications During COVID-19 – Varsity Branding

Once again, communities came together virtually to exchange ideas about marketing in extraordinary times. This forum placed a special emphasis on public relations and crisis communications. Our PR director, Kim Lehman, shared tips and trends, which are shown near the end of this post. For more of Kim’s insights, read her blog posts on crisis planning myths and chaos-proof crisis planning.

Check out the takeaways from this week’s roundtable below. You are also welcome to attend our next sales & marketing roundtable, coming this week. Details are at the end of the post.

PR/Crisis Communications Trends and Tips

We are working closely with LeadingAge’s national office on PR opportunities with various national publications and news outlets.

Editorial trends we’re seeing:

  • Positive news, creative ways of keeping residents engaged and healthy
  • Employees recovering from COVID-19 and coming back to work
  • Testing — Can you get testing? Are you testing everyone? Etc.

Every community should have:

  • A designated, media-trained spokesperson
  • Talking points
    • How you are responding to COVID-19
    • Prevention measures
    • Number of cases
    • How you are keeping residents engaged and loved ones informed
    • Protocols for team members

Media-training tips:

  • Practice your bridging technique.
    • Example: Answer the question, (“Yes, we have cases of COVID right now.”), but bridge it to turn the conversation positive (“This is what we’re doing to keep residents safe and engaged…”).
  • Every media interview is an opportunity, but you don’t have to do every interview if it’s not something you can respond to.
  • Editorials/opinion pieces can be written and submitted to publications. Most papers have guidelines, and you can follow up with a call to the editor after submitting the piece.
  • We really can’t overcommunicate during this time. Examples:
    • A community shared stats with prospects and how it is addressing COVID-19.
    • A CEO placed a large ad in response to a negative article on senior housing.

Join the next sales & marketing roundtable on May 7! 

We thank everyone for participating, and we invite you to join the next session, Thursday, May 7, at noon ET.

This week, Jackie Stone, VP of sales consulting at Varsity, will join our general marketing discussion for part of the session to share her perspective on sales and outreach.

You don’t have to be a client to join the session — all are welcome. For call-in information, email .



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