Hanover

4 Mar 2020

As crisis communications practitioners we obsess on the word ‘if’. What if that happens? If we do this, what will be the result? What if we don’t? If I was a customer, what would I think? Although it’s a small word, organisations should give ‘if’ the consideration and respect it demands, otherwise there can be profoundly monumental ramifications for corporate reputation.

There’s no doubt ‘if’ is fuelling the media frenzy that surrounds the fast-evolving Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. Indeed, while closely monitoring and being involved in responding to this highly dynamic situation, Rudyard Kipling’s immortal poem ‘If’ immediately sprang to mind.

By having the right people on hand to advise and support, businesses will more effectively mitigate immediate and long-term impacts, particularly when it comes to protecting their corporate brand and reputation.

The opening line “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…” rings so true, as what I’m seeing is those organisations that have thought about ‘if’ are the ones most likely to remain calm amidst the hysteria. By doing so, and therefore having the right people on hand to advise and support, businesses will more effectively mitigate immediate and long-term impacts, particularly when it comes to protecting their corporate brand and reputation.

Since January, myself and colleagues have been working round-the-clock with multinational organisations, including businesses, a major event and global travel and hospitality providers, to advise and help them overcome the tremendous pressures they’ve suddenly faced in communicating with international customers, media, staff, partners, suppliers, government and wider stakeholders.

Fellow team members are currently embedded within clients to help them plan and manage their response, and we’re also helping audit existing response materials, developing messaging and adapting tone of voice for specific audiences, as well as undertaking scenario planning and running exercises and simulations to test and refine responses.

Our agile Coronavirus approach is based on our crisis communications pillars of: Readiness; Response; and Recovery.

In terms of readiness, our strategy and insights team use the latest monitoring technology and bespoke modelling software to provide sophisticated and accurate intelligence of where reputational risks lie and how messaging will land. We ensure our clients are informed, tested and prepared, so that their businesses can get back on the front foot and protect their reputation.

For response we integrate our experienced crisis counsellors and public affairs experts together with our digital and content experts. This allows us to quickly mobilise powerful resources to activate proven processes that ensure organisations are ready, confident and supported to respond dynamically and globally 24/7 across all owned and earned channels (traditional, broadcast, online and social) when an issue like Coronavirus breaks and develops.

As well as bolstering clients’ capacity and capability in a flexible and scalable way, including providing instant press office function to field media inquiries and correct inaccuracies, a crucial aspect of our offer is relieving pressure from in house teams. This enables in house individuals and teams to remain focussed on carrying on with important business as usual needs, which if not done risks damaging the business commercially and on a reputational level.

Reputational impact can often only be understood after the event. To help with recovery, our insights team can provide robust and accurate monitoring and understanding of the impact on relationships with key stakeholders and audiences, as well as flag specific issues that require further attention. Our senior strategists will use this to ensure your business has the correct communication approach in place to deliver reputational recovery and enhancement.

If your business or organisation requires help and guidance around the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak, and would like expert help turning your ‘ifs’ into what, when, how and why, please contact our dedicated Coronavirus team by emailing: coronavirus@hanovercomms.com.