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Communicating Through a Pandemic

The impact of Coronavirus (COVID-19) is far-reaching and ever-changing and is testing the preparedness – or lack of preparedness – of organizations large and small. While it can be tempting to panic, now more than ever, organizations need to be the voice of calm, bringing proactive, timely and reliable information to their stakeholders.

As you and your organization explore this uncharted territory, we want to share the best practices we’ve cultivated over the past 30 years of helping clients prepare for and communicate through crises – and during the last couple of weeks of helping organizations manage this emerging situation.


In any crisis, especially one unfolding and evolving as quickly as COVID-19, there will be uncertainty and information will be in high demand as the situation – and the “facts” – may change rapidly. It’s important to rely on trusted sources of information and avoid speculation. You won’t have all the answers, and that’s okay.


How you respond in the first hours and days of a crisis sets the tone and will impact your reputation – both internally and externally. It is critical that you:

  • Put people first

  • Respond quickly and accurately

  • Show empathy and compassion

  • Be as transparent as possible

  • Become the trusted source of information for your key audiences

  • Stick to the facts

  • Share important information in simple, declarative sentences

  • When appropriate, follow the authorities’ lead


There are many resources available to help provide guidance to your organization in preparing to maintain continuity of service, make your workplace safer, establish an effective work from home policy, etc. Some resources you might consider, include:

  • MMAC: A local guide to resources for businesses

  • SHRM: A national guide for HR Departments to manage the issue

  • CDC: Regularly updated guidance on the status of pandemic and steps organizations and communities can take

  • DHS: Resources and guidance from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services


A time of crisis can be a great opportunity to show your true colors and be a catalyst for bringing people together. Consider ways you can support those in need. Not only is it the right thing to do, it’s a great way to build trust and support among your key audiences.

Interested in learning how we might support your organization and ensure you’re prepared to respond to a crisis now and in the future? Contact us at 414-390-5500 or