Cancelled business trips or events, media enquiries, anxious employees, and requests by your board or stakeholders on how you have prepared - By now your company has probably been affected by SARS-CoV-2, known as the Coronavirus. So, how can your corporate communications avoid misunderstandings and prevent reputational damage?
Reputation Affairs has listed useful tips to navigate your company successfully through these challenging times.
- The most important aspect will be to understand how your business may be affected. If you are part of a long supply-chain make sure to identify high-risk players who might be affected the most and how this may lead to bottlenecks in your daily operations. Upholding good stakeholder communications, therefore, is crucial.
- Furthermore, clearly define the internal roles within your company and choose one person or a team which deals with the issue. Often, it is unclear whether it is your board, the C-Suite, your legal team, or your communication officer’s tasks to inform your employees.
- Assure that your employees know to whom they can/must go if they have questions concerning the virus, their safety, or the managements’ plans.
- Make sure there is only ONE master document explaining your business decisions regarding how to react to the virus and avoid multiple documents circulating – making sure that your Intranet, Social Media Channels, Internal TV, are synchronized.
- Inform your employees on a daily basis regarding the latest forecasts and actions taken by management. If you decide (or are forced) to shut down parts of your operation, explain why you are doing this and don’t just present your employees with done deeds and dire consequences.
- And, last but not least, understand where your employees gather their information. Your staff will consult different channels and media, and consume other stories than you do, resulting in differing Thus, while some members of your team might underestimate the threat, others may grow worried. Be mindful of all opinions in your team and take them seriously; show understanding if they do not wish to travel or go to other business-related affairs. Most important: don’t force them.
You are not (yet) affected by the Coronavirus?
If you are not (yet) directly affected you might find the following points interesting in terms of a driver for positive change within your company.
- It could be the perfect time to discuss your crisis management setup. Take this occasion to prepare for tomorrow's Update or implement your crisis plan, clearly define stakeholders and map the risks in your supply chain.
- Check on how realistic/up-to-date your CSR statements Do you really have a zero-work-accident policy? Make sure that your employees are not exposed to the virus. Did your last CSR report mention that you support the community around your business operations? Donate masks, food, or medicine to your local hospital to ensure that they can keep up their important work.
- Be a leader and not a boss! Prove to your employees that you are a responsible and empathic manager whom they can trust in situations like the present crisis.
How can we help you?
We at Reputation Affairs are happy to support your company if you have any questions or challenges around the Coronavirus, especially around the following scenarios:
- Scenario planning: Analysing and assessing communications risks within your company and jointly developing an action plan.
- Media training for your leadership team, specifically targeting SARS-CoV-2.
- Preparing internal (employees) and external (stakeholders) communications for a crisis. This might include bottlenecks in your supply chain, the temporary shutdown of your factory, or the unlikely event that your employees need to go into quarantine.
Get in touch with us to define your perfect strategy, we look forward to hearing from you.