5 Tips for managing crisis communications during the COVID-19 virus pandemic.
How you deal with negatively impacting challenges, both inside the organization, and in public view, is at least as important as handling the good news. The instantaneous news cycle of social and mass media means that every moment a problem goes unanswered brings an exponentially negative impact on any organization. Regardless of the nature of the problem – natural disaster, personnel issues, product safety issue, whatever the reason – crisis communication preparedness is vital.
Without a plan, your operations will struggle to effectively respond, stakeholders will feel misled or uninformed, and the organization will be seen from the outside as inept or disorganized. The total impact to finances and reputation could be irreparable.
Enter the Coronavirus.
At the time of this writing, the world is locked in a struggle with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Organizations of all sizes, corporate and non-profit alike are trying to cope with a massive loss of revenue and labor reduction, all with no clear end in sight. Every industry is affected and on every level from vendors and landlords to employees and customers.
It’s entirely possible, however, that a traditional crisis communications plan is not as effective as may be necessary for this once-in-a-generation situation. Still, if you start with the basics, you should be able to weather the storm with little damage. Just keep in mind these 5 points to maintaining an effective crisis management strategy. Note: One of the first steps is to anticipate the crisis – that one’s out the window with the coronavirus problem.
- Identify a crisis team. Determine in advance who will make up the crisis communications team. A CCT generally includes the CEO as lead, the company’s top public relations specialist, a representative from your board of directors or other governing bodies, and legal counsel.
- Select a spokesperson. A consistent, clear voice should emanate from the company, offering information and strategy. Choose someone – and train them if necessary to speak publicly for the company.
- Monitor the media. It should be the task of someone or a team of people to monitor any public information either about or affecting your organization. Reporting to the PR specialist, that information may need an immediate response so it’s important to be timely.
- Get a second opinion. It might not be financially ideal, particularly in a crisis, but it might be best to hire a PR consultant who has crisis management experience, even temporarily. This third-eye view can help keep you from overlooking mistakes. And listen to their counsel – don’t think you know everything. Generally, the last person who should be making the initial decisions is the owner or CEO, he or she is often to close things emotionally to be clear-headed.
- Leave your ego at the door. In a situation like this, pride and ego will be your downfall. Don’t let pride keep you from saying, “I’m sorry, we screwed up,” or “we are going to have to let people go to survive.”
If you are fortunate enough not to be embroiled in the coronavirus fallout, you still have time to plan. Take a look at what effect it has had on others in your business and try to learn from their mistakes or mimic what they’re doing that might be effective.
GLD Enterprises Communications, Ltd. is highly experienced in helping you identify and manage crisis communications. Our two-decade involvement with media and private industry has given us a unique position, so let our experience work for you.
During these uncertain times, we are offering reduced rates to help make dealing with these challenges more affordable. We want to help you keep your customers, employees and partners informed and calm. Call us today to see how we can help, Gery Deer – 937-902-4857 firstname.lastname@example.org