Share markets in freefall, rational investment strategies out the door, health officials advising against large functions and brokers cancelling client meetings.
It would be easy for any self-respecting, ASX-listed company to considering pulling down the shutters and heading for a period of hibernation.
After all, notwithstanding yesterday’s miracle bounce on the ASX, the only direction this virus-infected share market seems to be heading is south.
Good news won’t be fully appreciated and reaction to bad news possibly exacerbated.
Explorers and junior miners will be thinking about axing or reducing planned work programs to preserve what little precious cash they have left – the idea of an equity raising in this market is not appealing.
But neither is a period of radio silence.
The directors of ASX-listed companies are guardians of their investors’ funds. Prudent action and responses to a global crisis like COVID-19 will be expected – in fact, demanded.
So will be the acceptance that this pandemic will one day pass and companies will resume their growth strategies.
Those who were able to maintain a semblance of steady state operations during this COVID-19 crisis will be rewarded for being able to hit the ground running. That extends to the explorers who have managed to continue adding ounces of gold or tonnes of nickel to their resource base.
The steady state needs to pertain to communications too.
While most companies will have rightfully prioritised communications to their workforce about the best way to prevent a spread of COVID-19, don’t forget about your external stakeholders.
They too need to be kept abreast of what you are doing, not just in relation or response to COVID-19 but as reassurance that wherever possible it is business as usual.
A period of communications hibernation will do more harm than good.
It will spark confusion, misunderstanding and misinformation if investors, as a key stakeholder demographic, have to wait for the quarterly report for an update on why the drilling program – promised months ago – was all of a sudden cut off.
And if you did announce that the drilling program had been axed, don’t wait months before you provide an operational update.
It is much easier to lose investors’ confidence in your ability to manage their funds during times of crisis, than it is to win back their support.
Communications will play a key part in demonstrating that COVID-19 has affected, but not replaced, your day job.