Keep Calm and Communicate – Managing a Crisis
To any employer, a COVID outbreak within the workplace could spell disaster.
Of course, at the top of your agenda is the safety and wellbeing of your workforce, their families and your customers. The human cost is the absolute priority.
It goes without saying that closing your doors and sending staff home will also have a significant knock-on effect on operations.
However, a COVID outbreak within your business will also be ‘news’. Your local newspapers, radio and TV stations will want to know more and, depending on the scale of the outbreak, national press and media may also seek reaction and comment. What’s more, with online news and social media, news (and misinformation) can travel at a terrifying pace.
Regardless of the nature of the crisis, you can’t afford to pull the shutters down and go quiet. You might not be able to control it but you can manage it, keep your key stakeholders informed and limit the damage and reputational risk.
Ideally, organisations already have a crisis communications plan before it’s needed – and hopefully it never will be. However, if the crisis is beginning to bubble, it’s time to take immediate action and create one now.
The plan will outline the chain of command and an approval process for comment and reaction. This is likely to include your Managing Director and colleagues in marketing, legal and HR, with clear guidelines on how to contact them out of hours (crises rarely happen between 9 and 5!)
Who are you talking to? Yes, if your local newspaper calls you, you’re talking to them but press and media are not your only consideration.
We can help create a plan of all audiences you need to inform, and keep informed, in what order and through which channels. When do you tell staff, customers, funders and influencers, and which tools will you use to reach them quickly and effectively? Some people will visit your website, some will react on Twitter and Facebook and customers might email you – let’s identify the tools and mechanisms to ensure no-one misses out on this important communication and, more importantly, you communicate the right messages before they get the wrong ones elsewhere!
What will you say? This is where the role and value of PR in a crisis becomes very clear.
Together, we will fine-tune your responses underpinned by, say, three to four clear messages. We will work with you on framing them, ensuring that they are 100% factual, expressing empathy / apology if required, together with an explanation of what happens next.
We will also take the heat out of the situation, acting as your spokesperson. Any press inquiries will automatically be bounced to your PR, saving you the stress and hassle of managing each and every call and demand, allowing you to focus on the priorities.
In summary – a crisis communications plan will allow you to be prepared in the event of a crisis, pandemic or not. Saying ‘it won’t happen to us’ is short-sighted, naïve and could make your crisis a LOT worse.
Call me to discuss your needs – 07912 324 264 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.