When COVID-19 sent the US and other markets around globe into lockdown in March, our global marketing and corporate communications team at The Depository Trust & Clearing Corporation (DTCC) had to manage the flow of information to thousands of employees around the world while simultaneously adapting our approach to how we engage with clients, given everyone was dealing with their own unique circumstances.
While we’ve leveraged and adapted previously developed crisis communications strategies and best practices, we’ve also taken this moment as a unique opportunity to further reimagine our marketing and communications approaches for employees, clients, and other key stakeholders.
As a financial market infrastructure provider, DTCC is a critically important component of the global financial system. We employ thousands of people around the world, and in 2019 we processed securities transactions valued at $2.15 quadrillion. Like many firms, we’ve had to rapidly adapt our communications strategy as a result of the pandemic, and we’ve had to get it right, as the smooth functioning of the global economy relies on us to process transactions efficiently and effectively each and every day.
The immediate priority was to ensure our staff were safe and that we could continue to seamlessly service our clients — an outreach initiative that required considerable tailoring, efficient decision-making, and a willingness to experiment. Despite the volume of rapidly changing and conflicting news, three key strategies were successful in ensuring employees and clients received necessary, accurate information without being overwhelmed.
Apply a Filter
Our benchmark was to ask, “In this unique situation, what would a reasonable person expect from a responsible organization?” and then deliver on that. During a time when it would have been easy to become overwhelmed by a flood of news and updates, it was a useful standard for both internal and external communications to ensure we were communicating essential information without disseminating noise.
Quickly, we learned that clients were facing many of the same challenges we were, making swift decisions and rapidly adjusting strategies to safeguard their businesses. Clients were no longer working on the same initiatives they were pre-COVID-19, and in response, we discontinued discretionary marketing around product promotion and shifted our focus to delivering essential information, such as how to access or use several products and services that had become even more vital in a turbulent marketplace.
Change the Channel
Our analytics indicated that clients were increasingly relying on our website and that our employees were depending on our intranet as the crisis developed, so we shifted our emphasis to those channels. We worked to ensure that business-critical updates were posted to our corporate website’s homepage for clients, making access to essential information quick and easy. For employees, there were a few topics that were not only fundamental, but were constantly being updated, such as what to do if an employee was diagnosed with COVID-19, what benefits were available, and best practices for running team meetings effectively and securely in a remote working environment. We also shifted employee communications from a heavily email-dependent approach to a central information hub that was easily searchable. Employees could choose how they preferred to receive information, and how often.
Throughout, each strategy and decision were underscored by a tone of transparency and authenticity. We crafted each message with great care and sensitivity to how each stakeholder group was feeling.
While the core principles guiding our approach to communications are the same as they were before the crisis, the execution changed — and we expect it will continue to evolve. For the DTCC marketing and communications team, the greatest accomplishment of our evolved approach was cultivating a more open and expressive approach to our professional lives. This outcome has energized and enabled us to deliver on the demands of today while positioning us well for tomorrow.
Marie Chinnici-Everitt is managing director and chief marketing officer overseeing global marketing and corporate communications for DTCC. As a leading financial services infrastructure provider, DTCC is responsible for providing clearing, settlement, and the recording of monetary and other financial transactions across the globe.
*Content originally appeared in longer form in Communicate Magazine.