Communicating through the Coronavirus Crisis

“In fast-moving and uncertain situations, many leaders face questions they may not even have answers to. As someone who studies crisis communication, I regularly tell my students and clients that you need to communicate early and often with your key constituencies throughout a crisis. Even if you’re still trying to understand the extent of the problem, be honest and open to maintain credibility. Approach the situation with empathy. Put yourself in your constituents’ shoes to understand their anxiety. You will sometimes get it right, and you will often get it wrong, but it is still better to be as transparent as you can.”

The article outlines the following steps:

Create a team for centralized communication
Ideally these teams should be small, five to seven people. You need to include a member of the leadership team, someone from corporate communications, an HR executive, and an expert in the area of concern.
Communicate with employees
Employees are your most important constituency and function as ambassadors to the community. If they aren’t informed and don’t understand what is going on, communications outside of the organization will be more difficult.
Communicate regularly with customers
Focus on what is important to the customer.
Reassure shareholders
The epidemic has created intense volatility in the financial markets in the last two weeks and turned what was an incredible bull market into a potential recession.
Be Proactive with Communities
At the very least organizations, should do their best to make sure their actions do not negatively affect members of the community, but you can also think about a crisis as a time to enhance relationships with the local community.

You can read the full article at Harvard Business Review.

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