Communicating in a crisis
How well would you cope?
With Coronavirus sweeping the world many businesses have had to dust off their ‘action plans’ in case their businesses are affected.
Communications must be a key part of any action plan or business continuity strategy.
What should you say to your staff, your suppliers, your stakeholders, your customers? Who will say it? How will they say it? What if you say the wrong thing to a journalist? What if you get flustered?
In recent weeks the team at Empica, which has been providing PR and communications advice and services for 30 years, has been actively working with many of its clients, tightening up their contingency plans and shaping their messages in readiness.
The first to be affected by issues surrounding Coronavirus have been clients in the travel, hotel and hospitality sectors. They have seen major changes in customer behaviour as people cancel travel plans or do not want to go to parts of the world where Coronavirus has hit hard.
Next have been the care sector, where protection of vulnerable people is vital.
Empica’s team has been supporting them by reviewing continuity plans, drafting reactive holding statements and making proactive announcements to stakeholders that can be posted on websites and social media channels.
The key is to respond swiftly and appropriately should the need arise.
Darren Bane, PR Manager at Empica, said: “If a crisis happens, you are likely to be pulled in all different directions; it will be stressful, chaotic, challenging and demanding, and you could easily appear like a startled rabbit in the headlights.
“Our main tip is to ensure that you stick to the truth. Only pass on information from reliable industry bodies or official advice. Keep statements factual and avoid speculation or projecting forward on what may or may not happen.
“Of course, those who have prepared in the past are in the best position. Best practice is to have a crisis plan in place that has identified potential crises relevant to your sector and pre-prepared appropriate, adaptable, communications for your staff, customers, stakeholders, the media and the public.
“Having these on the shelf takes a lot of the stress out of the communications element so you can focus fully on the crisis itself.
“You have the reassurance of knowing that you are ready for this; you have prepared for this; you know what to say, when to say it, how to say it, and who will say it. It’s one less thing to worry about.
“It means you can appear confident and assured which, in turn, can cultivate comforting calm rather than provoke panic.”
There is ample evidence to show how a reputation can be protected, and even enhanced, by the response to a crisis far more than it may be damaged by the nature of the crisis itself.
If your business needs any help during the current situation, or if you want out more about how Empica can help you prepare for, respond to, and recover from, these difficult days, visit www.empica.com/training or call 01275 394 400.