Reputation management during a pandemic.

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26 March 2020

In these uncertain times, as governments scramble to contain the global COVID-19 pandemic, businesses face unprecedented challenges. For many their very survival is at stake and the long-term effects on employees, their families and the wider economy is uncertain. One wrong step from a business and the reputation which has taken years to build can unravel in seconds.

At this critical time, communication is the corner-stone of a crisis preparedness plan. This has become self-evident both at a government level, where some have struggled, as well as for business, who want to reassure both employees and customers. How you communicate with stakeholders both internally and externally during this time will set the tone for the difficult months ahead. Our Communications Agency, Nelson Bostock Unlimited, provide three tips for comms professionals to help avoid any pitfalls:

1.Message Overload

We are all getting information from multiple sources, whether that’s a twitter feed of a virologist fighting the pandemic in Italy, family WhatsApp groups or UK government press conferences.

Ask Yourself: Where does our communications fit in and is it definitely adding value to target stakeholders, external and internal, who could be suffering from stress and anxiety from message overload?

2. Message Cadence/Consistency

At a government level, regular communication is vital to maintain confidence and ensure the correct, most up to date steps are taken to combat the pandemic. As businesses begin to feel the financial strain of the crisis, it’s important that stakeholder communication also provides confidence, strikes the right tone and doesn’t operate in a vacuum.

Ask Yourself: How does this message fit with the wider national/global pandemic narrative both at a governmental as well as societal level?

3. Message Delivery

Now is the time for leadership, both from government and business. The visibility of senior leaders and how they communicate with their stakeholders now will set the tone for the challenging months ahead. Avoid multiple spokespeople, take responsibility for difficult decisions and show empathy at all times.

Ask Yourself: As a comms professional, is my CEO media trained and ready to be the spokesperson for the organisation for a sustained period, even when other pressing matters may be at stake? And if not, who can credibly take that vital responsibility? And as important, is my external messaging aligned with what I’m saying to my employees?

Need some support?

We understand this is a really difficult time which is why Nelson Bostock Unlimited have come together with Health Unlimited to offer businesses a complimentary one-hour crisis communications, government relations and employee engagement video consultation workshop.

This multi-agency support across health and reputation management provides crisis counsel overlaid with healthcare expertise. Health Unlimited have a legacy of advancing landmark developments in global health and challenging, hard to treat health conditions such as HIV/AIDs, infectious diseases and vaccine preventable diseases. This combined with Nelson Bostock’s extensive reputation management experience and the latest social listening and analysis tools means we can provide industry leading COVID-19 reputation and crisis management support.

If you would like support with communication planning during this difficult time then please contact Shane O’Donoghue, Director, Nelson Bostock Unlimited.

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