Communicating in Times of Crisis: Coronavirus
With the coronavirus (COVID-19) now exceeding 92,000 reported cases, there’s no better time for businesses to revisit their own crisis communications plan. When planning a proactive response for this kind of scenario, the top priority for businesses is to protect the welfare of their employees and customers. Brands must be prepared to communicate strategically with their audiences to show a unified and confident response. We’ve pulled together a list of best practices and resources to help brands prepare a reassuring response.
The leading objective is to put people first - employees are likely concerned about their personal wellness, and potential disruptions of work. Prepare a communication plan, and ensure that your employees' concerns are addressed.
Gartner advises that, to ensure employees, shareholders and other stakeholders believe an organization is prepared to handle a crisis — companies should be able to answer these 10 questions:
- Can our company operate at 25% or greater absenteeism?
- If illness causes high absenteeism, are employees cross-trained and able to perform multiple duties?
- Can our employees work remotely?
- What infrastructure support is needed to support a shift to an at-home workforce
- Will our company monitor, or even restrict, travel to high-risk regions?
- What procedures do we have in place to decontaminate the facility and its heating, ventilation, air-conditioning systems, electronic equipment, and soft materials?
- What assurances do we need to provide to the facility staff members so they feel safe at work?
- How will traveling employees be brought home, particularly if they are sick?
- Are there escalation procedures to get additional resources?
- Is there a trained and representative crisis-management team that includes on-call staff, and do those team members know what is expected?
Follow the links below to learn how companies have already begun to take action in various industries:
- CNBC: CDC prepares for possibility coronavirus becomes a pandemic and business, schools need to be closed
- Modern Healthcare: Hospitals advised to prepare for dealing with Wuhan coronavirus
- CNBC: Hospitals across the US prepare for coronavirus outbreak to become global pandemic
- Advisory Board: Are US hospitals ready for coronavirus outbreak?
- National Restaurant Association: Coronavirus Information and Resources
- New Food Magazine: Coronavirus’ impact on the food industry
- Wine Spectator: How Will the New Coronavirus Impact the Restaurant and Wine Industries
- National Retail Federation: U.S. retailers are taking steps to prepare for impact from the coronavirus
- Fox Business: Coronavirus and the US retail and travel industry – Here’s the big picture