by Howard Fencl, Hennes Communications
COVID-19 catapulted client after client into chaos this year. They were all unprepared to talk about it. After all, who plans to talk about a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic? Maybe you went through the frightening drill yourself last spring: A colleague is the first in your company to test positive for COVID-19. A resident in the retirement community you run tests positive. A customer or vendor who has had direct contact with your employees is diagnosed with COVID-19. The phone calls came fast and furious to us in that first wave of infections. Should we tell all our employees, or only the ones working in the location with the infected person? Should we reach out to our staff’s families? Our customers and suppliers? Should we put information about this on our website? Should we post something on our social media sites? Should we tell the media?
Readers of our blog and newsletter – and certainly our clients – know that our answer to every one of those questions is almost always “YES!” Yes, tell the truth, tell it first and tell it fast or risk losing the true narrative of your crisis to misinformation and rumor-hungry Twitter trolls. Yes, tell it all – or as much as legal and privacy concerns allow – because you’ll be caught in a sin of omission, called out and pilloried on social media.
Everyone’s hair was on fire in the initial days of COVID-19 communications. But you can steel your organization for crises in 2021 by resolving to invest in:
A Crisis Communication Plan is the best way to ensure your organization will respond quickly and effectively, preserving its good name when a crisis hits. What other issues are keeping your executive team and department heads awake at night? Data breach? Active shooter? Cancel-culture boycotts? Demonstrations? The Crisis Communication Plan prepares you with messages, media statements, internal and external email communications and social media posts for the nightmare scenarios you identify to get you through the initial hours of a crisis. That enables you to focus your energies on operational issues and keep your company running.
Crises of any magnitude are a true test of your company’s mettle, but they don’t have to be a fire drill. Resolve to be ready in the New Year and give us a call at Hennes Communications.