This week Lisa attended a PIM (public information management) session at Waikato DHB to discuss preparedness for the COVID-19 coronavirus. As well as a raft of useful information for communications professionals, the pandemic response and emergency management experts shared some valuable guidance for businesses:
- Nobody knows what the course and eventual impact of this virus might be, but everyone can prepare for its potential effects
- Keep your internal and external audiences well-informed about what your business is doing to prepare. This may change, so it’s important your stakeholders understand this
- Stay informed via verifiable and reliable sources. New Zealand’s Ministry of Health is in close contact with the WHO and has the most practical, up-to-date advice
- Think about how your organisation will be able to stay in operation if large numbers of staff are unable to come into work
- Offer opportunities for contractors and other non-core staff to work offsite
- Challenge ‘presenteeism’ and make sure your people know you don’t want them to ‘soldier on’ when they’re sick.
The number one message for organisations, large and small, is that we should all be actively planning right now. COVID-19 may not reach the worst-case scenario predictions, but a focused Business Continuity Plan is valuable and important for any business.
From a communications perspective, at times of uncertainty it is critical to maintain the trust of staff and clients. This is when the ‘relationship capital’ you have built up starts to prove its worth. Rumours, fear and mistrust are the enemy at times like this, so strong relationships with suppliers, customers, your internal team and key industry players are invaluable.
We are all hoping for the best, but to protect yourself and your business, it is important to prepare for the worst.