Crisis Manager On The Spot…Quick Coronavirus Crisis Communications Tips

With coronavirus news disrupting business across the globe, we’ve been asked by quite a few clients, colleagues and friends what exactly they should be doing about a couple common areas of concern. Due to this interest, we felt it would be a good topic to cover here in our next edition of Crisis Manager On The Spot.

What are you telling clients who have employees in China or elsewhere who may have been exposed to the virus?

Unfortunately we have several clients in exactly this situation. We have advised them to follow the specific guidelines offered by WHO, CDC, the US State Department and other health authorities.  That way even if people fall ill, company spokespersons can say they have met or exceeded any requirement for prevention and response.

Most importantly, we have advised clients to communicate with compassion for all those impacted and to do what they can to soften the blow of any necessary restrictions.

How does a company tell an employee they may need to be in quarantine, possibly for 14 days or more?

While nobody wants to command someone to be quarantined, a company doesn’t actually tell an employee what to do in that situation. That direction would come from a health authority and hence the onus would be on that authority, not on the company.

What else should we be doing on a day-to-day basis to reduce risk from coronavirus?

The best thing you can be doing right now is staying on top of the latest news and things like travel recommendations. If a trip can be postponed, it might be a good idea. Business needs to continue, but in the end it’s good crisis prevention to protect your most important assets, which of course includes valued employees and staff.

[Erik Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy.]

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