COMMUNICATING: COVID-19

COMMUNICATING: COVID-19

Communicating: COVID-19

It is hard to open any social platform or tune into any news broadcast these days without hearing, seeing, or reading something about COVID-19 (Coronavirus). This topic, much like the virus itself, seems to be spreading at a rapid and somewhat alarming rate. There is so much to determine, discuss, plan, respond, react, and share about COVID-19. It can for many, feel overwhelming.

Today, I had the opportunity to join my emergency management colleagues at Sandhurst Consulting in a Pandemic Planning seminar with a variety of organizations representing multiple different industries. Together, we shared pandemic planning components, key principles of risk communication, and identified potential problems, objectives, and strategies to prepare for and respond, should COVID-19 impact these organizations. My topic of course, was communications.

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The team at the Centre for Crisis & Risk Communications have researched, practiced, and been taught by Dr. Vincent Covello. In my view, he is one of the founders of Risk and Crisis Communications. He holds a Masters Degree in neuroscience and Doctorates in communications. His primary consulting business is with the World Health Organization and he’s supported the World through events like the Ebola crisis in Africa, the Zeeka virus in Africa, and pandemics including H1N1. Dr. Covello, gets it. We share his passion for sharing the science-based and world-proven risk communications.

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The information surrounding COVID-19 continues to change and evolve. Organization’s stakeholders, including employees are beginning to ask questions – many of which remain unanswered or ambiguous. Despite confusion or lack of clarity, organizations need to be communicating with their stakeholders today.

Here are a few initial thoughts on communicating with stakeholders about COVID-19

  1. Begin communicating with your stakeholders now, if you haven’t already.
  2. Utilize your existing channels and the same tone of voice.
  3. Share verified information from trusted resources such as: Local health authority (jurisdictional) such as: Alberta Health Services, Health Canada, Centre(s) for Disease and Infection Control, World Health Organization, etc.
  4. Engage teams from your organization that have a stake in the communications (HR, Legal, Health & Safety),
  5. Inject or include your organizational specific messages with the messages you are sharing from your trusted sources.

Always remember… “people want to know that you care, before they care what you know.” Do not dismiss people’s feelings! If you want to further the conversation, watch for some COVID-19 information – communication and planning sessions through the Centre for Crisis & Risk Communications coming soon.

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