“Today the greatest risk of a global catastrophe is a highly infectious virus rather than a war. We invested a huge amount on nuclear deterrents but very little to stop an epidemic”, Bill Gates TED Talk 2015.
It’s been a very challenging two weeks for the UK and the world. Employees are trying to adjust to new working environments and routines such as remote working and social distancing. Organisations are also more vulnerable.
If you are working in the public sector you are aware it is a sector that is facing great changes such as being busier than ever and changing to remote working. In fact, the public sector is exploring ways using AI to deliver public services and tech services are partnering with the public sector to respond to the current pandemic. The government issued advice to public sector buyers without competing or advertising and a Coronavirus Bill summarising all impacts and how to respond to the outbreak. In fact, the NHS is developing and implementing plans after facing additional demand, which has a cost. Therefore, the public sector needs to deliver more effectively than ever.
The public and third sector are more vulnerable during Covid-19. In fact, charities struggle to deliver public sector contracts and need to cross-subsidize with money from other sources such as fundraising; even though all fundraising events have been cancelled. Charities can overcome this challenge by mobilizing across the UK and using digital technology and communication. Credible and positive communication is critical to release any important information to the public.
There are two ways of communicating: internal (within the organisation) and external (between the organisation and clients, subscribers, customers etc.). The way in which we communicate internally is different compared to external due to audience type. Since people are more anxious during a pandemic, it is crucial to study how information will be communicated, especially externally. You do not want words to be misconstrued and cause a negative response.
You need to provide an effective service and guideline. In the public sector, this is aimed towards stakeholders. In order to avoid confusion between employees, you should discuss internal communications before working remotely (if implemented) such as videos, social media, email and conference calls. This leads to effective PR where precise information is communicated immediately. Employees will feel more well informed and calm.
Regarding customers and clients (external comms), they need to be communicated as soon as employees decide; whether it’s about a sponsorship, media partnership (with or without costs), postponing or cancelling events. By doing so effectively and positively will show them you care and see them as a priority. The messaging should remain consistent and if questions arise, ensure you know the answer.
Have empathy. There is now a better reason to communicate information, but you need to choose the manner. It is easy to flood employees with a lot of information and organisations might start launching new marketing campaigns to keep their customers and clients up to date with upcoming events. Good crisis communications, according to Forbes, is build essentially in four pillars: honesty, transparency, accountability and consistently. The first response and decision-making process needs to be quick.
Crisis communications protects the reputation of your organisation and maintaining a good image