COVID crisis PR—business communications in unprecedented times

by | Mar 30, 2020 | Analysis, Covid-19, Public Relations

In midst of all the stress and uncertainty about the coronavirus pandemic, it’s important for companies to communicate. Messages to clients, customers and employees should be clear and concise, showing you are in control and staying abreast of the hourly updates from health and government officials.

Messaging should demonstrate compassion for hardships that clients and employees are facing. Let them know you are there to support them.

Many clients are seeking guidance on ways to survive, so consider writing advisory pieces or hosting a webinar that offers actionable and creative ideas. You should then share your ideas on social media channels so that others can benefit.

With employees, be as transparent as possible

They want to be communicated with on a frequent basis so that they know what’s going on at all times, whether the news is good or bad. Be honest, but don’t be an alarmist. If there was ever a time to demonstrate leadership, now is that time.

If you must deliver bad news to your staff, such as a layoff, reduced hours or pay cuts, be empathic. See what you can personally do to help them or their families during this time of crisis.

All companies should have a crisis communications policy in place

If it’s made public that an employee of your company has contracted the virus, for example, you may receive a barrage of calls from the media demanding answers. Don’t work up responses under duress. Think now of a strategy about what you might want to communicate to the public.

Hallmarks of a good media statement:

  • Demonstrate empathy for the affected employee. Talk about what you are doing to notify co-workers and anyone else who may have come in contact with the person.
  • Don’t be defensive or terse; say as much as you can without jeopardizing the privacy of the worker.
  • Talk about what you are doing to be socially responsible such as allowing employees to work remotely and practicing social distancing.

Also, in times like this, members of the media are reporting the coronavirus from every angle possible. Think about how to present yourself as a valuable source for their around-the-clock coverage.

If you are a lawyer, financial expert, real estate professional, or healthcare provider, you might have good advice to share with the public by way of the media. A veterinarian could provide useful information on how to care for pets or a tele-working expert could provide good tips for the legions of people who are now working from their homes.

If your business has already been hurt by the pandemic, think about ways you can pivot and offer a new or modified service that might work for this new reality. If you do, consider a press release to let the media know.

Finally, as this contagion continues to escalate, more and more people will miss paychecks and need assistance. Think about ways you can help, such as donating to a social service agency, church or synagogue, or providing free service.  Keep in mind, while coronavirus is impacting us all, it will affect some much harder than others.

We are all in this together.

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Todd Templin
Todd Templin is Executive Vice President of BoardroomPR, a full-service communications and marketing firm based in Fort Lauderdale. He can be reached at 954-370-8999 or ttemplin@boardroompr.com.

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