Communicating a positive COVID-19 test

COVID cleaning photo for COVID cleaning postA year into the pandemic, chances are your craft beverage brand has experienced a COVID scare: symptomatic employees, direct exposure or worse. Perhaps you made the tough call to temporarily close the tasting room while owners and managers acted quickly to isolate/mitigate risk factors. Shifts were cancelled, team members [self]quarantined and COVID tests were required, putting an incredible strain on the business. All in an effort to restore confidence and provide a safe and healthy work environment.

But what about your customers?

What has been done to restore THEIR confidence?


Recently, a client had a similar scare which resulted in them shutting their tasting room down immediately. While the team had a plan in place for managing this internally, they rushed to communicate closure details and mitigation steps to customers. This email outlines a checklist of communications to consider when a team member tests positive for COVID-19. We hope this either guides or reinforces your customer outreach plans in response to future scares:

Market Your Craft barrel logo for mobile discoverability emailHow does announcing a positive COVID test make your craft beverage brand more discoverable?

Closed bar photo for COVID cleaning postOne word: transparency. Customers do not want to be surprised by anything during COVID-19. While you can't reach every single drinker who might visit your tasting room on a normal day, letting them know about an immediate closure, you can quickly update the most visible touchpoints. This is a best practice and customers will appreciate the effort.

Remember, those craft beverage producers who continue to engage and support customers through the pandemic will be top-of-mind when things open back up. We're thankful more of our clients haven't been directly impacted by positive tests, and we hope you and your team continue to be healthy and safe.

inform your customers

Most craft beverage drinkers are going to check before visiting any tasting room – they don't want to be greeted by closed doors when they arrive. Together with indoor seating/capacity restrictions, we have all become a little cautious about trips outside the home. In about an hour you can update your website, social channels, business listings and other digital channels. Here are the 13 most important:

  • Facebook post (sample)
  • Facebook special hours
  • Facebook bot or automated messenger
  • Instagram post
  • Twitter post
  • Google My Business special hours
  • Google My Business post
  • Website hours
  • Website events page
  • Website COVID-19 procedures page
  • Apple Maps Connect special hours
  • Tasting room voicemail
  • Signs on doors

Non-Alc beverage for COVID Cleaning emailMarket Your Craft
Published Today at 7:00 AM

We'll be closed today and tomorrow for a deep-clean of the Tasting Room. One of our team members tested positive for COVID-19 and we're taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of our team and guests. Thanks for your understanding 🙏

Closed image for COVID Cleaning email
  • Facebook post (sample)
  • Facebook special hours
  • Facebook bot or automated messenger
  • Instagram post
  • Twitter post
  • Google My Business special hours
  • Google My Business post
  • Website hours
  • Website events page
  • Website COVID-19 procedures page
  • Apple Maps Connect special hours
  • Tasting room voicemail
  • Signs on doors

Non-Alc beverage for COVID Cleaning emailMarket Your Craft
Published Today at 7:00 AM

We'll be closed today and tomorrow for a deep-clean of the Tasting Room. One of our team members tested positive for COVID-19 and we're taking every precaution to ensure the health and safety of our team and guests. Thanks for your understanding 🙏

Closed image for COVID Cleaning email

What's the message to customers? Your goal is to quickly communicate the situation, whether that's a modified schedule or full closure. Give customers a timeframe for when you expect your team and tasting room to return to normal operations. Communicating a similar message across multiple channels is okay – the redundancy helps reinforce the message.

when to notify the industry

We know press releases broaden the reach of your message when the news is positive: reopening your tasting room for example. But they also quickly communicate those stories that negatively impact the drinking public. It's important to understand if and when a press release is necessary in response to a team member testing positive for COVID-19. There's no hard-and-fast rule for this: only you know your relationship with your media contacts and local community. It is worth considering a formal press release when your business:

  • Will experience a major interruption in production
  • Plans to be closed for more than 7 days
  • Has to postpone or cancel a major, ticketed event
  • Is involved in a product recall
  • Must change your financial outlook for the quarter (publicly-traded craft beverage producers )
  • Experiences a COVID-related death

We have only seen press releases announcing COVID-related closures in extreme circumstances, so chances are the digital and traditional updates listed above will suffice for your tasting room. Otherwise, below is a sample press release announcing a temporary closure you can use to draft your own:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact:
Scott Kolbe
Market Your Craft
scott@marketyourcraft.com
(224) 999-0547
 
Market Your Craft Temporarily Closes Due To COVID-19
Tasting Room Suspends Operations For Two Weeks

Lakewood, CO: Today, Market Your Craft, a craft beverage producer in the Lakewood area, announced they will close for two weeks after five employees tested positive for COVID-19.

"At Market Your Craft, our top priority is the health and safety of our employees, visitors and the Lakewood community," says Scott Kolbe on behalf of the team. "We first became aware of one of our team members exhibiting flu-like symptoms Monday during a shift. The individual employee and those coming into direct contact were asked to self-quarantine until they were able to get tested. Five of our team tested positive, so it's with an abundance of caution that we made the decision to close the tasting room for the next two weeks."

Under Colorado guidelines, Market Your Craft was under no direct order to close. "During our voluntary closure we will work with outside services to conduct a deep-clean of our production facility and tasting room," says Kolbe. "We will use our social media channels and marketyourcraft.com to update everyone on our progress. In the meantime, we wish for a safe and speedy recovery for our affected team members."

About Market Your Craft

Based in Lakewood, CO, the team at Market Your Craft produces craft beverages for today's discerning drinker. Known for a number of award-winning styles, they distribute locally to restaurants and beverage outlets in addition to serving customers of legal drinking age at their tasting room. Learn more at marketyourcraft.com.

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The point of a press release like this is not to cause concern: if the tasting room employees are following Colorado guidelines for social distancing, the risk to customers is greatly reduced. Use length of time or severity of [business or community] impact when deciding whether or not your news requires a broader industry announcement. Additional communication resources are available on the CDC website.

watch-outs

When announcing COVID-related changes to normal operations of your tasting room, it's important to show the same leadership with your customers as you do with your team members. There's a great article from McKinsey & Company discussing the five things crisis communicators tend to do well:

  1. Give people what they need, when they need it.
  2. Communicate clearly, simply, frequently.
  3. Choose candor over charisma.
  4. Revitalize resilience.
  5. Distill meaning from chaos.

Every message doesn't have to check those boxes: social media, for example. The point is to be thoughtful, factual and concise. COVID-19 has impacted everyone, so customers will understand if/when your tasting room is affected. Always protect the privacy of team members involved, and never over-promise a complete "return to normal" that's out of your control. And if you ever question how or when to communicate your response to the pandemic, we're here to help.

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