Coronavirus has put the spotlight on the international community’s capability to manage the contagion, not least in the field of communications.
With a capability to provide resources needed to mitigate the threat, companies are both bystanders and part of the solution.
As they mobilise to manage responsibly, corporations will focus on employees, and direct resources at those facing the most imminent threat. They will look at the communities in which they operate to support the people and institutions that are as much a part of the broader corporate horizon as their own assets. In times of crisis, a thoughtful, relevant and well-executed response can sustain and, perhaps, enhance reputation. The reverse also holds true, with poor judgement carrying the risk of permanent reputational damage.
Confident and regular communication alongside appropriate engagement will be valued by employees and wider stakeholders as the crisis plays-out. From the company’s point of view, an aligned and motivated workforce is essential to meet the challenges ahead. Well-managed employee engagement at times of crises will strengthen trust and have benefits long after the crisis has ended.
Planners need to involve the right people, ask the right questions, test the appropriate conditions and clarify the delivery of actions. There is a need to focus continually on empathetic engagement with local communities, managing and maintaining morale in the face of sometimes existential challenges
The earlier organisations prepare their communication response the better. We advocate a three phased approach to meet such challenges: 1. Organisational readiness assessment; 2. Scenario planning; 3. Enablement development. Some guiding principles include
- Comprehensive risk evaluation
- Communication planning: protecting staff, protecting business, protecting reputation
- Channels and communication infrastructure strategy
- Guidance and support tools development
- Post crises normalisation