While your issues may be complex, don't make them complicated.

Keep It Straightforward and Strategic

Disasters come in many forms. It can be a natural disaster, an error in judgement by someone in your C-suite, or following a disease outbreak. The crisis with COVID-19 is now another in a long list of crises facing healthcare providers.

Crises are nothing new but it seems that whenever they happen, the collective lessons learned and corporate wisdom vanish. Creating an adaptive Communication Response-to-Incident Plan is essential to getting through it.

Response-to-Incident Plans: Adopt the KISS theory

Whatever has happened to cause your organization’s current crisis, it’s imperative to create a response-to-incident communication plan. Yes, response is the key word, not a reaction. The shift in terminology is fundamental to being proactive, effective, and getting through it all in one piece.

First, rather than just keep-it-simple-sweetheart, the philosophy of your plan should be: Keep It Straightforward and Strategic. This means that while your issues may be complex, it’s important to address them in a manner that helps keep them from becoming complicated.

There are a few key things this communication response plan should cover:

Goals/objectives: Ultimately, it’s important that everyone share the same vision. So, while the incident you’re responding to may change, you will all look to the same short list of what you want to achieve by communicating with your key stakeholders. For example, if you’re an assisted living community or skilled nursing facility, your goal may be that hospitals will continue to accept residents or patients from you. Or, if you’re an association, it’s important that your members support your position and spread the message to other communities.

Key messages:  Know what you want to say in succinct, direct terms. And, ensure everyone speaks with the same voice, whether it’s your facilities engineer talking with a vendor or your CEO being interviewed by the media.

Key audiences:  Create a thorough list and don’t leave anyone out.

Timing:  Determine who gets told first, and then who else to address in a domino tile-effect of communication. This is as important as who you will communicate with in the first place.

Methods of delivery: Sometimes it’s appropriate to send an auto-generated email, a personal email, make phone calls, or post in-facility signage. And, other times, it’s essential to host an in-person visit. You can see some examples in our earlier blog, Web Content & More: Sharing Updates on Coronavirus.

Spokesperson(s): When Shakespeare said “All the world’s a stage,” he didn’t have COVID-19 in mind. However, he was spot-on. You will need to assign the appropriate spokesperson to the appropriate platforms. Once equipped with key messages, your leadership staff can extend your reach across an array of audiences. It’s important to choose the right person to communicate with each of your specific audiences.

Every crisis has a beginning, reaches a crescendo, and, ultimately, will pass. How it passes is the important issue at hand. It will leave you either with stronger relationships or with corporate destruction in its wake. That is entirely up to how your organization reacts or responds.

Follow these steps in creating your Communication Response-to-Incident Plan and be sure to Keep It Straightforward and Strategic (KISS). With these steps in mind, your organization will get through it and be all the better for the experience.

Does your company have a Communication Response-to-Incident Plan? If you need help developing a plan or would like to update your current plan in light of the current COVID-19 situation, please contact us for help. Our team has both the crisis PR background and overall marketing expertise to help you succeed!