As the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues to spread across the globe and now within the majority of U.S. states, it has become clear that we can expect further uncertainty and misinformation along with increased diagnoses and unfortunately, loss of life.

There is no absolute method for how companies, organizations, and business leaders should communicate and manage their corporate communications with customers, partners and investors – but there is a correct approach: exhibit transparency and understanding.

All organizations are different and should embrace their unique perspective and operating model by initiating communication now in advance of widespread infection. For some, this may mean internally with employees, and for others, externally with customers, clients, partners and investors. With this in mind, below is an overview of a recommended checklist for communication:

  • Note to employees. This should consist of best practices for hygiene, commuting, business travel, hosting external guests, alternative meeting solutions (Zoom, Skype, etc.) and for many – how to transition to a temporary work from home program.
  • Will health be impacted? For some organizations, especially any that host customers and clients, there is a very real possibility of onsite spreading of the coronavirus. Organizations need to take steps to educate their respective audience(s) in advance with details surrounding planning and preparation for various scenarios.
  • Will business be impacted? The coronavirus is disrupting global supply chains which has curtailed manufacturing and shipping and negatively impacted the stock market. It’s important for those involved in your organization to understand short- and long-term effects of these disruptions, and while there is no clear path forward, communicating the issues transparently reduces some stress of uncertainty.
  • Where to look for news? In today’s news climate it’s unfortunately too easy for important topics like the coronavirus to be politicized and used as a weapon for misinformation campaigns. Organizations should identify trusted news entities and individuals, such as non-profit and non-partisan media and global health organizations and their leadership, to provide up to date information that isn’t biased or misleading. This requires daily monitoring and research, and effective dissemination.
  • Delivering the message. There are many ways to effectively disseminate messaging, spanning social media, email newsletters, print mailers and of course traditional media exposure. Choose communication vehicles that are feasible and accessible for you and your respective audience(s).
  • Maintaining calm and understanding. Yes, there is plenty of uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus. However, this is no time for panic or finger pointing, and organizations must remember that where there is loss of life, there is sensitivity. Use language that isn’t overly dramatic or emotional, delivering only facts as you and the public understand them, is key for organizational leadership.

For more information and insight on communications strategies surrounding the coronavirus, please let us know how we can help by emailing [email protected] or calling 646-699-1148.

coronaviruscrisis communicationshealthcarepublic relations

Eric Fischgrund

Eric Fischgrund is a father, husband, entrepreneur, writer, sports fan, music-lover, and founder and CEO of FischTank PR, a public relations and marketing firm based in NYC.

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