As the COVID-19 coronavirus has subsumed media attention and discussion in the U.S., Solomon McCown & Cence has been counseling its clients on how best to communicate with their key stakeholders, including employees, clients, customers, tenants, residents, patients, students and the press.
As in any crisis, the most critical advice is to be as specific as possible with the steps you are taking to ensure the health and well-being of your community, while also providing uninterrupted support and services.
Here are five important questions to keep in mind while communicating:
- What you are doing to keep your workplaces safe (working remotely, following CDC guidance to prevent workplace exposure, extra cleaning by janitorial staff, etc.)?
- How will you respond to an employee who thinks he/she is sick? The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the employee call his/her health care provider first and tell them about recent travel and/or symptoms. They will offer instructions on how to get care without exposing other people to his/her illness. From there, you will need to consider how to communicate to employees that one of their colleagues may be infected.
- How will you manage if a large number of employees, get sick or need to quarantine at home, and what kind of redundancies will you have in place to ensure their work carries on?
- Do your services to certain clients and/or customers also rely on outside vendors? If so, you want to ensure those vendors have contingency plans in place that you feel comfortable with, so you can proactively communicate that to those clients and/or customers.
- Do you have any large gatherings planned in the next month or two or trade shows you or your teams are attending? If so, consider what will need to be done (postponing events, skipping conferences, etc.) as the COVID 19 virus continues to spread.
As you communicate, remember to engage your teams. Ask managers to let you know what questions/concerns they receive from both internal and external audiences, so you know what needs to be addressed and added to future communications. And remember, you should tailor communications depending on audience, as the same message may not work for everyone.