If history has taught us anything, it’s that we should learn from it.
Since the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), financial markets continue to be rattled, as the U.S. and other global economies desperately try to respond to the pandemic.
Global travel, entertainment, sporting events and conferences all are being cancelled in an effort to curtail the spread of the pathogen, while companies reevaluate revenue projections and earnings guidance due to the current “business slowdown.”
Some good news, however. Congress approved $8.3B in emergency spending to fight the virus, plus the Fed lowered interest rates and has begun to flood the market with liquidity. And there’s now talk about a payroll tax cut. While these fixes are helpful in the long run, what can a business or organization do right now?
It’s important to realize that pathogen outbreaks are not new. Many more serious than COVID-19. What makes this epidemic seem worse, at least economically, perhaps is because we are more than ever linked to a global economy, and there is more we don’t know about the coronavirus than we actually do.
All this puts enormous pressure on business organizations to properly communicate to stakeholders, from employees to customers to shareholders, among other key audiences. Saying the wrong thing or not saying enough can be detrimental to the bottom line.
Establishing a crisis communications plan is vital to help navigate the fallout of COVID-19. It’s probably best to do it A.S.A.P. In the interim, here are three simple actions to follow:
Foster calm. Without sounding too glib, keep clam. Create a plan on how your organization is working to circumvent the spread of the coronavirus internally and externally. Follow guidelines from the CDC or WHO, and if applicable, bring in a health expert.
Communicate. Let employees know your organizational response. Transparency is key. Also, follow up with customers, partners, and other key audiences, as applicable. If publicly traded, it’s important to assess material risk, or even lack thereof, which may require special communications.
Anticipate. Address any worst case scenarios and formulate responses, both from tactical and communications perspectives. Keep in mind this is an internal exercise and not meant for public dissemination.
While the above-mentioned tips aren’t a replacement for a professional crisis communications plan, they can help organizations better prepare for the inevitable regarding COVID-19, which to many, may occur sooner than we think.
George Medici, firstname.lastname@example.org