Coronavirus crisis communications: One-minute workshop

We’ve not seen a crisis like it. The COVID-19 situation is changing by the minute, and each day brings new challenges.

Virus cells in a green dye

Business continuity plans have been rolled out, and every evening we anxiously await the latest guidance from Downing Street.

In this unfamiliar landscape, it’s good to know that some things don’t change. Whatever the crisis, the basics of good crisis communications remain the same.

Here, I share my one-minute workshop on how to navigate a crisis:

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate: Create a reliable source of information from your organisation. Communicate regularly to employees, suppliers, and tenants and show leadership. Make good use of your intranet, website, and social media, and brief all your frontline staff. Keep a running list of FAQs and update them frequently
  • Quash rumours quickly: If you don’t communicate, the rumour mill will do it for you. Listen to what people are saying (however hard it is to hear) and provide the facts. Rumours have legs and are difficult to quash once they’re running – so act quickly and decisively
  • Don’t speculate: It’s ok to say “I don’t know” or “It’s too early to tell”, as long as you follow up with the information as soon as you have it. See also: Don’t lie, don’t promise what you can’t deliver, and don’t blame others
  • Remember, it’s about people: Yes, businesses are having a very tough time – but people are at the heart of this crisis. A kind word will go a long way in the midst of pressure, prioritisation, and efficiencies. If your employees feel supported, they will find it easier to support tenants
  • Plan and plan again: Those organisations with functional business-continuity plans will have been grateful they put the hours in before the crisis. We need to keep asking the difficult “What if?” questions and explore the responses. If a scenario materialises, it feels better if you’re prepared

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