If someone in your company is diagnosed with COVID-19, you will need to move fast to protect your staff, business, and community while offering support to the affected individual. During this frenzy of activity, you may receive media attention and need to respond to the press and public as well – you will have many different constituencies to address and many different urgent priorities to juggle, with little time to research and plan your response.
To handle this situation if/when it arises, it is vital for your business to prepare a COVID-19 communications plan now so that you can react quickly, calmly, and efficiently in the heat of the moment.
Plan for all scenarios
To begin this process, imagine different scenarios that might arise – an employee gets sick, an executive gets sick, a person with the virus was in your office, etc. – and think through the actions that would need to be taken. Who would need to self-isolate? Who would you need to notify? Should you arrange for a cleaning? How do you make sure people feel safe working for you and with you afterward?
For each scenario, build out a flow chart illustrating your response and write up templates of the statements you would need to make to your staff, your partners, the media, and health officials.
Having a plan and templates in place before a crisis will help you move methodically to address the situation to minimize the disruption to your business operations. It will also help you project the right qualities – transparency, empathy, reasonableness, calm, and control – to direct the narrative around the incident and showcase your competence as a leader and a business.
Tools to get started
In our COVID-19 Messaging Checklist [link], we have a section on things to consider while preparing for a COVID-related public relations event. We also have action flowcharts and messaging templates available for our clients to jumpstart their planning.
Our team has experience handling COVID-related PR incidents. Contact us to see how we can help you turn a frightening situation into an opportunity to build trust with your staff, customers, and community.