According to the Wall Street Journal, recent disruptions in global supply chains have resulted in increased prices and spikes in canceled orders, forcing businesses to make substantial changes in the way they communicate with customers. However, the public doesn’t always understand supply chain challenges from an entrepreneur’s perspective; they’re anxious because the cost of food, gas, and other essentials are rising, and then they see consumer goods prices go up as well.
In consumers’ minds, their favorite brands are now part of the problem. This is where PR professionals come in!
The truth is, brands don’t want to raise prices — our goal at EpiLynx is to be affordable and accessible to everyone — but it is the responsibility of PR pros to clearly and effectively communicate this to audiences. Here are some PR tips that can help communication professionals keep client messaging relevant and empathetic (so customers stay on their side, despite supply chain challenges).
3 Ways PR Pros Can Support Clients Experiencing Supply Chain Challenges
Minimize shortages and delays by planning ahead
During times like these, the best PR defense is a good offense. When we’re proactive, we can minimize many of the problems that hiccups in the supply chain cause our clients and their customers. Check in with your clients regularly about what they have in stock and what will be delayed. Sold-out or waitlisted products are always newsworthy, and learning about them right away helps you craft a more effective story or pitch around them.
If your client regularly sends products to celebrities or influencers, encourage them to order supplies in bulk. You’ll ensure that you always have what you need on hand, and your clients will save by stocking up. Keep an eye on your sample inventory so you can request more products from your clients when you’re running low. But you have to be flexible — consider pausing your sample sends when supply chain challenges are at their peak.
Expanding shipping options can also help your clients on the offensive as they fight supply chain challenges. Adding a delayed shipping option can help ease the impact of shortages and delays on the customer — and if shipping is free or comes with an extra discount, you can turn that into content for your client.
Communication with customers is key
A good offense goes a long way, but we must also be ready with defensive tactics. Clear and consistent communication is your best strategy no matter what.
Don’t be afraid to be honest with your client’s customers when supply chain challenges arise. You have an established relationship with their customer base, and relationships are built on trust. This is a time to be completely transparent.
Advise your client’s web team to keep their online store current with banners or prominent messaging that alert consumers when items are running low or back-ordered. In addition, make sure they update their website with accurate shipping and delivery times. Customers always prefer to learn about supply issues before they place their orders.
Refine your message about supply chain challenges and over-communicate with your client’s audience to maintain their trust. Request that your client regularly updates you about out-of-stock items and when customers can expect them to return. Brainstorm with your team about ways to reposition these delays and drum up demand for unavailable products.
Go above and beyond to win customer satisfaction despite supply chain challenges
Do whatever you can to win over customers frustrated by shipping delays, items that are out of stock, or increasing prices. Be prepared with responses for people who reach out on your client’s socials, but leave the actual customer service up to your client. Talk with them about the possibility of adding a bonus item to delayed orders or covering shipping costs. That consideration often makes a customer even more loyal than before.
Amidst shrinking inventory and rising prices, direct customer attention towards lower-priced items, bundles, or slow-selling products with lots of inventory. Craft pitches around these items for media outlets or turn them into social media content for a direct link to your client’s audience. This can boost traffic and visibility when top-selling products are out of stock, and create loyal users for each product regardless of supply chain challenges.
Make sure your client knows that dealing with upset customers personally and with empathy is the best path forward. Stick to your press plan, but be mindful of audience sentiment as your client deals with delays and shortages. If complaints are especially high, you might consider doing something to boost morale, like giving away free products or bundles. Your team is on the front line for your clients, so maintaining a happy customer base goes a long way in persevering through supply chain challenges.
Experts predict that supply chain challenges may show some improvement this year in certain sectors. Kinks in the supply chain will be short-lived, but being proactive and transparent as your client works through them is key. This enables you to avoid long-lasting repercussions to your client’s brand and reputation.