The worldwide coronavirus outbreak is a concerning cause for communication specialists, whether we are talking about the internal ones, the public relations departments of companies, or the external ones from the communication and public relations firms. The World Health Organization has issued a set of recommendations for communicating in the epidemic situation, which should be taken into account by all those involved in the transmission of public messages, especially public institutions and private companies. We all have to show responsibility and fairness in the messages we send, to provide accurate and complete information, in a temperate and professional tone, which will not create panic and a state of uncertainty for the population and the employees.
The image of a company can suffer greatly if it fails to have a coherent and professional attitude in a situation such as this related to coronavirus.
Tudor Communication proposes a mini-guide for internal and external communication, to make it easier for companies to pass over the coming period, to ensure a right image and to prevent communication crises.
Panic is perhaps more dangerous than the epidemic itself. Keep calm, do not make impulsive decisions that will generate more chaos, appeal to business or communication consultants for help. Get your information only from reliable, official sources.
Each industry, these days, faces specific challenges. The most affected by far are services, transport and tourism.
Because of the rapid evolution of the epidemic, the international authorities and those of each country did not have time to develop good practice guides for each industry separately. So, be inspired by the actions taken by colleagues in the industry, be supportive and share with them the ideas you have.
Think of the possibility that you can initiate and set partnerships with the competition, in order to create strong clusters. Transparent alliances can be of great help in times of distress. Isolation is not the best policy in times of crisis.
This period is not about securing or growing our business at any price, but about limiting the danger to which each of us is exposed.
Neither the authorities, not even the field specialists have all the recommendations for the way in which every industry should deal with crisis situations. If you do not know how to react in certain situations, get in touch with them and let them know what your company’s problems are. Keep in mind that they have more information than we can see in the public space and implement the solutions they offer you.
There are situations when your company can reach the spotlight, whether you want it or not. Our recommandation is to choose when and how, and to take into consideration that in these crises every industry needs leaders and that one can be you.
We mention some cases in which you face a crisis situation triggered or not by an internal decision. We list, for information purposes, possible crisis situations related to coronavirus, specifying that the list is neither complete nor limiting.
First of all, it is extremely important to transmit the information internally and to reassure the employees. Then you must comply with all the measures imposed by the authorities and communicate this publicly. It is also necessary that, at every request from the media, you respond urgently, within a reasonable time. Keep in mind that a miscommunication during these times can have devastating effects on the business. Customer confidence in crisis situations is extremely sensitive and can collapse to any wrong word. It is good to have an already established crisis mechanism, which will be easily set in motion. Who is responsible with what, what messages one communicates and until when, who makes the decisions and for how long, which are the channels, which are the main messages, to whom and for what you can call for consultancy and financial support.
There are already industries severely affected by the impact of the coronavirus epidemic. If you are in the situation of dismissing or cutting wages, make the decision transparently and with the assurance that things will return to normal when the situation allows it. Communicate internally and externally, with clear and transparent explanations regarding the criteria taken into account when making decisions and find future compensatory solutions for the people that have been affected by these measures.
Inform your partners and, if appropriate, also communicate publicly to avoid crisis situations, pointing out how much you expect the situation to last and what alternative solutions exist.
Announce that, for the safety of the employees and of the whole company, you suspend the activity for a certain period of time. Keep in touch with the communication department, which continues to respond to requests, in order not to induce the idea that the company will go bankrupt.