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Crisis Communications: The Coronavirus

  March 5, 2020

There is a lot we don't know about the coronavirus.  What we do know is it's driving a lot of business decisions as the virus spreads and fear grows. A few examples:

  • Many airlines have cut international flights, but United and JetBlue have also announced cuts to domestic flights.
  • Some school districts are closing their schools for a time.
  • Starbucks has suspended the use of personal cups.
  • International business conferences have been cancelled.
  • Sporting events, concerts, movie premieres are being delayed or cancelled.
  • Some Catholic churches are emptying holy water fonts.

No Crisis Communications plan will ever cover every possible scenario and some small businesses don't even have a written plan.  Now is the time to get busy.  How you communicate both externally and internally really matters.  Consider this:

  • Have you posted, emailed or communicated in some manner to your employees--the basics on prevention?  The CDC and OSHA offer resources.
  • If workers exceed their allotted sick days, has HR worked up a plan to encourage the ill to stay home without having a major impact on their personal finances?
  • How many of your employees can do their jobs from home?
  • Can you postpone your next business conference or make it a webinar?
  • Have you issued guidelines on flying?
  • There have been reports of anti-Asian bullying.  Have you made it clear to employees that this won't be tolerated?
  • Does a large portion of your workforce use mass transit to get to work?  Are you properly informed about what transit agencies are doing to assure riders and can you disseminate that info to your workers?

It's tricky to address any potential crisis without causing panic.  But with thoughtful preparation and consistent messaging, you'll get through it.

I was interviewed on this topic by News3 Las Vegas.

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