Crisis Management- Handling a Pandemic Requires Effective Communications

March 5, 2020

In the past I have commented on crisis management and the tools needed to handle crisis in today’s business environment. It is clear however, that an international crisis, such as the COVID 19 virus, is harder to deal with than a domestic crisis. A pandemic, or potential pandemic as the CVOVID 19 virus is, by its very nature, an international crisis. Therefore, In essence, the COVID 19 virus presents international crisis problems, issues and concerns to many companies, organizations and even governments. Like other international crisis, the COVID 19 virus crisis is of course harder to handle than domestic crisis. Why? Because of international considerations, an international crisis is harder to manage than a domestic crisis. As it is more complex, companies caught up in an international crisis have to pay more attention to international, cultural, and communication issues than they would in a purely domestic scenario. Cross-border crisis management has become very important. Therefore, an international crisis requires a number of steps, including:

• Planning for an international crisis
• Appointing a crisis manager
• Establishment of a crisis management team
• Knowledge of foreign situation and its impact
• Communications
• Cross-border management of the crisis

The principle focus of any crisis management strategy, especially in an international contest, is communications. All crisis management plans call for effective crisis communications, which many times are not always executed. Inadequate or failed communications lead to bad publicity, unhappy stakeholders, and potential disaster. An effective crisis communication strategy is necessary for any international crisis. A number of companies and even governments have failed to defuse international crisis because of poor communications.
An effective crisis communication strategy is necessary when dealing with an international crisis .A number of processes are need to implement an effective crisis communication strategy to manage an international crisis, including:

• Creation of the crisis communication team.

• Identify key spokespersons who will speak for the organization. Who are they? What are their roles?

• Training on cultural issues, if the crisis involves other cultures.

• Establishment of communication procedures and protocols. Who communicates to whom and why?

• Identify key messages to communicate to key stakeholders and groups.

• Has a budget been approved for the crisis?

• Have the facts surrounding the crisis been established?

• How will the company use social media?

• Identify third party consultants that can add value to the communication and PR process- whether it is a PR Communications firm or a third party company.

• Has a communications war room been set up to handle communications?

Though companies try and resolve the crisis at hand and spend significant sums of money to do so, if they fail to properly communicate to the media and the public, they in effect have lost and can expect outrage and consumer dissatisfaction to such an extent that the very existence of the company can be threatened. This is particularly so for cross boarder crisis as the failure to manage international communications can lead to cultural issues which play out in the press or on social media.

So remember, a company doing business internationally has to plan for eventual crisis which may pose a potential threat to the company. If it fails to handle communications properly, it faces not only a potential loss of business but a negative impact on its brand.

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