Crisis planning in a time of COVID

3 November 2020 | 3 min read | Crisis Comms
Tommy Gibbs

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Throughout 2020, businesses large and small have been faced with challenges like never before. One thing that every business has learnt, and many have learnt the hard way, is that no company is immune from a crisis.

Some businesses believe that keeping a low profile will mean they successfully avoid any public criticism or scrutiny. It can be tempting to keep out of the spotlight, but unfortunately, particularly in today’s world, someone else can shine that light on your business whether you like it or not.

The last few months have seen some under-the-radar businesses and brands struggle with the limelight as they face media interest following COVID-19 outbreaks. Many food production factories, not used to attracting media interest, have faced concern over the measures they’ve put in place to prevent the spread of the virus, thereby damaging employee and customer trust.

In today’s fast moving and very unpredictable world, anything can happen. From a COVID case in the workplace, to an issue with a customer on social media, if it’s not handled quickly and effectively, businesses can soon find themselves swept into a situation that dramatically impacts their business continuity.

Fortunately, there is something that every business can do to help protect their reputation and it will pay dividends when an issue or crisis occurs. The key is in the preparation. Taking time to consider the issues most likely to impact your business and taking appropriate steps to plan how you would address them, will put you in a good place should a worst-case scenario happen.

From a communications standpoint, this means having a clear crisis communications plan in place. This detailed plan will outline the risks your business is likely to face and will provide a clear process for you to follow in the event that a negative incident occurs. It will demonstrate the steps you need take to understand the severity of the risk, gather all the information and consider the different audiences you need to reach, from your employees, through to stakeholders. Importantly it will determine the channels you can use to reach them, whether this is your social channels, website or media outreach. By preparing accordingly, you will be in a more confident position to calmly assess the situation and respond appropriately – avoiding the danger of overreacting or underreacting, both of which can negatively impact your brand’s reputation.

Any business, no matter what size, should consider the issues that could impact them and make sure they are prepared in the event that these do occur. Creating a crisis communications plan and understanding how you should handle a crisis, or an issue, will go a long way in helping you to navigate these uncertain times.