Communication in a Crisis — in conversation with Julie Roehm

Julie Roehm was a guest at the High Stakes Forum, a series of webinars organized by the C-Suite Network. Julie is Chief Marketing and Experience Officer at Party City. Throughout her career, Julie has held challenging leadership positions and has successfully transformed the way organizations think about, and engage with their customers. Julie has a track record for innovation, collaboration, and driving great results.

Jeffrey Hayzlett, the CEO of the Network, and Julie discussed several topics relating to current-day business challenges.

The third topic they discussed was about how Party City used the COVID-19 crisis as an educational experience, and how they communicated with their employees and customers in this time of crisis.

You can listen to Julie’s response, or you can read it here.

Julie, did you get to deal with negativity? If so, what did you do, how did you handle this?

“We had stores that were affected by some of the looting and the rioting. Some associates were scared, some didn’t understand, and some wanted Party City to come out and say something specific.

“To answer your question about what we did — we used it as education. There’s nobody who’s going to teach you anything sitting in an ivory tower, and if you think that you have an understanding of what’s happening in the world — think again. Using the private Facebook platform to hear from our store associates about what was important, allowed us to react to help them stay safe, keep our customers safe, and make it easy to create joy.

“Actually I’m kind of pivoting on you to this sort of black lives matter and this diversity issue. Party City moved to a very unique place where we started to put messages out with our President, Brad Weston. We had a town hall planned and we have built a diversity action committee. We now have members representing all different backgrounds, races, religions, sexual preferences, etc.

“Our goal was never to go out and say we were doing more than we could do. We wanted our actions to speak for us. I think in this time; a lot of companies have been putting words in front of actions — not us. We didn’t go about posting all of this on social media. We did however go out there and say “hey, we have this committee set up and our goal is to listen and learn”.

“Now if you visit, the retail website, at the top navigation bar you will see this moniker. That used to be our “COVID-19 — Learn More”, but now, it’s our “We Stand Together — Learn More”.

Thank you for sharing, Julie.

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