As public relations advisors, we have begun thinking through the consequences of a potential coronavirus shutdown in our state. This is a rapidly evolving outbreak with potential large-scale ramifications on all aspects of our lives.
Every crisis is a business problem before it’s a communication problem. Now is the time to prepare for and protect yourself and your customers ahead of a crisis. Just as you would prepare for any major disruption to your business, there are things you can and should be thinking through now, before cases are confirmed:
- Identify your audiences and channels. Now is the time to think through who your key audiences are and the mechanisms by which you can communicate with them, in the event a shutdown affects them or their families. Think about employee health, family dynamics (daycare, school, senior facilities), customer needs and business operations.
- Show empathy and compassion. Whether you agree with them or not, your employees, customers and stakeholders will be making decisions about travel, business and more. How you react to those decisions matters. Support your employees and customers by being empathic to their needs and responding as such.
- Stick to what you know. In any crisis, honesty is always the best policy. State what you know with certainty, and direct customers/employees/others to credible sources for more information. Messages that feed into fears or downplay concerns can breed chaos and panic. Instead, acknowledge risks and uncertainties and assure your audiences of your intent to put their health and safety first.
While we may not be able to control the outbreak directly, we can control how we prepare for and respond to it. In the public relations world, crisis management comes down to providing sound, strategic advice for those preparations and response. We are committed to doing just that.
Below are additional resources for protecting yourself and your business for a Coronavirus response: