As organizations across the world and our region confront the fallout from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s important to remember the fundamentals of crisis communications.
While the global outbreak of a new and deadly virus may be unprecedented, those impacted can draw from the same playbook used to respond to crises across a wide array of industries.
The most important thing to remember when considering how to weather this crisis is to maintain trust.
The key to doing that is open, honest and transparent communication with the public and stakeholders.
Whether you’re rolling out a change in operations to permit better social distancing or announcing a temporary COVID-related shutdown, people are expecting disruption at a time of unprecedented change — but they want to hear about those changes directly from you. And they want to hear about them in a transparent, clear manner.
This is particularly true if a situation arises that could have led to a potential exposure.
The defensive crouch that so many of us instinctively turn to in a time of crisis breeds mistrust and suspicion. And that only compounds problems and alienates potential allies.
Responding proactively and transparently to a crisis, on the other hand, can increase trust over time — even though it can require painful admissions upfront.
The rules of crisis response don’t change – even during a global pandemic. Always be transparent and forthright. It will serve you best in the long run.
Anthony Campisi is an Associate Director in Ceisler Media's Philadelphia Office.