By Gina Rubel
For the greater part of 2020, most of our watercooler conversations have been about novel coronavirus, COVID-19, the 2020 presidential election, and the economy. As a crisis communications agency, we have been staying abreast of the latest information on coronavirus as we continue to counsel our clients, teammates, families and friends.
Many companies have business continuity plans but does your plan include crisis communications? As of March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) classified the coronavirus (COVID-19) as a global pandemic. Is your business prepared to handle internal and external communications?
Here are a few things you can be doing to manage through the coronavirus pandemic.
- Be prepared to help your company, customers and clients to lead through these tense times.
- Train everyone on best practices for good hygiene, travel precautions, safe food handling, work from home protocols, and what to do when sick. Downloadable workplace, school and home guidance flyers are available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Update and refine your crisis response plan (or draft one if it doesn’t exist yet). If you don’t have one or are looking for a resource, check out “Is Your Crisis Communication Plan Ready to Handle a Pandemic?” on Attorney at Work and download our free checklist on crisis evaluation and messaging management.
- Test your technologies and teams to make sure you are ready to continue working, communicating and supporting one another remotely if necessary.
- Update your staff, client and partner directory and make sure your team can access it remotely.
- Use tools that provide access to vital information and passwords remotely. There are various password managers available such as 1Password.com and LastPass.
- Educate yourself, your colleagues, clients, family members and friends on how to find reliable, trusted sources of information. Here are a few:
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID-19
- Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering CSSE at JHU
- World Health Organization (WHO) COVID-19
- New York Times How Coronavirus Hijacks Your Cells
- Learn from each other by setting up crisis response resource groups within your industries and associations.
- Don’t share hyped or fake information. Check the facts first and find out if the resource is reliable. Just because your educated friend shared it does not mean it’s not hype. Check out Snopes.com and their topics on coronavirus before sharing if you’re not familiar with a known source.
- Challenge yourself to remain positive and optimistic. I’ve taken to riding my Peloton every morning to clear my head and using the Peloton app to meditate at night. What are you doing?
Times of uncertainty, whether caused by an outbreak of illness, a natural disaster, or any other crisis, can provoke fear. Companies that have prepared proactively to handle any contingency are better equipped to weather the storm.
Gina F. Rubel, Esq. is president and CEO of the integrated marketing, public relations and crisis communications agency, Furia Rubel Communications and author of Everyday Public Relations for Lawyers, 2nd Edition, which includes resources for crisis planning.
For more coronavirus resources, please visit our Coronavirus (COVID-19) Crisis & PR Resource Center.