COVID 19 and Crisis Communications

This is a guest post courtesy of Solo PR Pro Premium member, Michael Ares, Principal Owner of MDA Corporate Marketing, LLC.

Coronavirus (now officially COVID19) has spread from China to dozens of countries on six continents, and the impact has rippled across the globe. Stock markets have plunged, entire cities have been quarantined, companies have halted travel and international conferences have been cancelled. The full impact of this outbreak from both a human and economic perspective can not yet be measured — and won’t be for some time to come.

“All good PR pros know you can be both reassuring and completely honest in a crisis- and in fact, the latter plays an important role in the former.” Kellye Crane, Crane Communications

It’s full-on Crisis Communications mode for those of us who specialize in such things. My discussions with one of the world’s supply chain experts — just back from a meeting with colleagues from some of the world’s leading retailers, distributors and manufacturers — paints a picture of unpreparedness and it is no secret to the public at large. 

Facts matter, and the facts are that most of our clients are unprepared for the worst of what may come — practically and, importantly, communications-wise. Trust is key, and trying to communicate that “we have everything under control” is difficult to square with reality. It is seldom advisable, especially when referring to circumstances that can’t possibly be under anybody’s control.

Fact-based messaging in a crisis like this is the way to go. Bottom line is, everybody will be affected, although some industries more than others, and some clients more than others. Candid discussions with our clients about key impact issues will reveal the strategy to take regarding communications with employees, customers, suppliers and partners. These are the times when reputations can be destroyed by shortsightedness. These are also the times when reputations — and brand equity — can be bolstered by smart, longer-term communications strategies.

Michael Ares, crisis communications expert

Michael Ares is a strategic communications architect in the business of changing people's minds. With more than 35 years of experience and proven expertise, Michael thrives on the challenge of building strong market positions, robust reputations, sound financial market standing and vibrant brand equity for organizations and individuals seeking success in highly competitive environments. You can connect with Michael on LinkedIN.