What’s happening with your organization during the COVID-19 crisis? Are you protecting your employees and keeping your customers safe? Are you staying in contact with current and potential clients – making sure they know you care? Is the local community aware of what you’re doing to help? As businesses begin to open back up, do you have a plan as to how to do it safely?
Does your company have a PR Crisis Management Plan? If you had to stop and think before answering any of these questions, the answer is probably NO.
Defining a Crisis
The current health crisis is more than just people getting sick and needing medical assistance. This is also affecting the world market, local and national corporations, and probably your own employees and potential future growth. You need to decide how to address and manage this business crisis– and fast!
To be clear: a business crisis occurs when something either externally or internally happens to create a risk. The crisis can stem from technology, personnel, finance, or a natural cause (i.e. flood, hurricane, illness, etc.). In contrast, a PR crisis damages your brand or reputation and loses the trust of the public.
When an issue can no longer be contained, you need PR crisis management. Someone either within or outside your organization must act fast because if you wait too long, you’ll face an even bigger problem. You will need more resources while the crisis impacts your finances.
Putting Together A Plan
In today’s age of 24-hour news and social media, every business leader must be prepared to manage a crisis at any moment. You should be ready for anything!
If you haven’t already, the first thing you need to do is put together an extensive, written business action plan for the coronavirus crisis. This will become your corporate guide in determining what your business will do to keep everyone safe and healthy, as well as respect the decisions and feelings of your staff and co-workers. For example, some of your employees may be very reticent about coming back to work in the office. Others may not be as concerned. Some staff members will insist on wearing face masks and keeping their distance, while others may not.
The management may decide to continue allowing their employees to work from home. Another idea is to rotate the staff so that only some of them are in the office at any one time. If there is enough floor space, moving desks and/or cubicles further apart may help everyone feel safer as well.
But most importantly, you have a responsibility to stay calm, act rationally, and not cause your employees more fear or unnecessary stress.
Protect Your Business Reputation
If, during the crisis, you had to close your doors or lay off employees, now is also the time to do damage control. Many customers and staff may be unhappy with your decision, even if they are misinterpreting what you had to do. Minimize the damage to your brand, reputation, and frankly, your income, by creating some great PR.
Respond quickly to negative Facebook posts or Yelp reviews. Let the community know what your future plans are but avoid offering false hope. If you don’t know when the doors will open again, say so. If you make untrue claims, you risk even more ill will.
Get in front of the public in as many ways as possible. Post on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media. Call the local news and offer them topic ideas that include your business. Get facemasks with your logo and make them available for free.
JoTo PR Disruptors
Do you need help creating your disaster plan? We can help. Call JoTo PR Disruptors today!