Crisis communications planning for Coronavirus | how can businesses deal with coronavirus?


The rapid spread of the Coronavirus has pushed the WHO to declare a pandemic.

To date, there are around 139,075 cases of Coronavirus (also known as COVID-129) globally, 5,117 have died and cases are now found in almost every country in the world.

Stock markets have been hit and the International Monetary Fund has declared that the world’s ‘fragile economy’ could be derailed if the virus is not contained.

Coronavirus Crisis Communications Plan

Source: Worldometers

Now, the question to be raised is “how can businesses deal with the Coronavirus outbreak?”.

In most cases, the potential impact is direct and obvious, such as companies sourcing products or parts from China where there are delays due to factory workers being ordered to stay away until the crisis passes. Apple has warned of possible iPhone shortages and Jaguar Land Rover has warned that it could run out of car parts at its British factories as early as next week.

Although efforts to prevent the spread of the disease are being ramped up globally, we are beginning to see the issue impacting tertiary businesses.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA), the trade body for the global airline industry, warned that falling passenger demand could cost the airline industry nearly $30bn in lost revenues this year, with global air travel expected to fall for the first time in more than a decade.

A sound crisis communications plan to deal with Coronavirus, at this point, is fundamental.

What Can Businesses Do About Coronavirus?

Analysts have also warned that hospitality chains, airlines, luxury goods makers and retailers will be among those hardest hit as Chinese consumers stay away from the shops and travelers put off holiday plans.  Should the virus spread further, we can expect to see similar behaviors and impacts globally.

It’s clear that businesses urgently need to consider the impact of the virus’s continued spread on their business continuity and subsequent crisis communication plans.

So what can businesses do, and how can PR help them?

The first step in effective crisis communication comes down to being open, honest and aware of the potential impact that the issue has on the business.

Once this is considered, organisations need to have plans in place to mitigate or manage the issue.

Coronavirus Crisis Communications Plan

How can businesses deal with the Coronavirus outbreak, especially in the UK?

Here’s how to create a coronavirus crisis communication plan:

  1. Be aware of the issue and its impact on your business – remembering the potential impact on people, products and place
  2. Know your stakeholders and advocates – who are your audiences and supporters?
  3. Determine what you are looking to achieve with the communications / key messages – what do you want audiences to think, feel and do as a result of your communications?
  4. Audit what communications channels you have available – how can you get your message out – should it be proactive or reactive and what are the best channels?
  5. Confirm your position/holding statement(s) – know your facts and position and have scenario specific messages.
  6. Evaluate and evolve as the situation develops – crises have a habit of evolving, so your plans need to reflect the changing landscape.

Communication professionals, we at The Source PR would advise this 6-point plan not only in relation to the COVID19 outbreak, but with any crisis situation yourself or your business may find yourself in.

Alongside this, checking the news at all times and remaining vigilant to any changes that may occur is vital. The government proposes a 4 step plan to eradicate the situation, each stage may impact your business and how it operates – so be sure to be keeping an eye on official announcements at all times.

Furthermore, protecting your consumers and equally, your staff, should be critical. For both maintaining your company’s reputation in times of unease, but also to do your bit in the prevention of the spread of Coronavirus. Only relay official Government advice to your stakeholders, and ensure that the best interests of your customers and employees are at the forefront of any actions you take.

As with all crises, often the perception is worse than the reality but it’s critically important to have procedures in place should the issue become a reality.  Having clear plans and objectives helps keep an organisation on the front foot in communications.

This proactive approach will also help convey to stakeholders that the business is in control of the situation and provide confidence to customers.

If you’re looking for PR and crisis communications advice or wanting to speak to someone regarding an issue facing your business, please contact today.

All calls are confidential and are under no obligation.

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