In summary of Coronavirus Crisis Communications webinar, a word from the host


20-03-2020
An image of a virus under a microscope, with the text Coronavirus Crisis Communications inserted to the right

Yesterday saw Cambridge Network’s first online seminars, brought together by communications guru Simon Hall. The two sold-out sessions offered advice, support, humour and most importantly they brought the community together. Links to the recording and presentation are below.

A reflection from Simon – ‘Doing the right thing’:

I’ve always believed that if you have a talent, you should put it to good use.  At this time of national crisis with coronavirus, I wonder if there’s a way all of us can find something within us to help society through.

My own small talent happens to be in the world of words, so I was very happy to host my first ever webinar, to try to support companies and organisations in putting out the right messages in these difficult days.

In partnership with the excellent Cambridge Network, we set up the infrastructure, put out the invitations, waited to see what would happen and... Wow!

We were overwhelmed with interest. One webinar quickly became two, both booked up with 100 people a time.

That was my first indication we were doing the right thing.

Not only were people booking, but they were thanking us for putting the webinar on. And that before I had even written it!

But with all the interest, comes a downside. I have to confess, I felt real pressure in the run-up to the event.  I’m used to talking and training in front of groups of 10, 15 or 20 people. I’ve even given speeches to an audience of several thousand. But the webinar was something new, and so the nerves kicked in.

However, I reassured myself with the thought that I was…

Doing the right thing.

And if it didn’t go perfectly, if we had technical issues, if I struggled to keep things together, then at least people would understand. At least we were trying.

I need not have worried.

Because of the fantastic support I received from the Cambridge Network team, and the kindness of the audience, we all quickly grew into this strange new world of passing on insights online, and the webinars were both a great success.

Simon Hall running the crisis communications webinar in the cambridge network office

The key messages of the ABC of crisis communications:

A is for anticipation

It will help you enormously if you can get ahead of the crisis, so draw up a list of the top 10 issues which coronavirus could bring for your business or organisation.  
Then work out what you will say about how you are dealing with them.

Be honest, open, realistic, take ownership of the problem, and take action.
And be brief. Say what you need to say, and no more.

Make sure you communicate your actions to staff, customers, partners and any stakeholders.
Clear communication of an effective plan of action eases concerns and spreads confidence.

B is for boom

The moment the crisis hits. This requires fast, effective and authoritative action.

Decide what your key messages are and get them out, whether via email, your website, social media, phone calls, videoconferencing, whatever.

Just do it fast and do it effectively.

C is for cleaning up

There will be lots of bad publicity in online searches about coronavirus, and you want to try to reduce that as soon as you can when the crisis starts to ease.

At that point, start putting out some positive messages on social media and to the mainstream media.

Thank your customers and partners for staying with you, offer discounts, hold a celebration of victory over coronavirus party, make a donation to a medical charity, anything to bring some positivity from those awful days of gloom.

If you can shift bad news about your company or organisation from the first and second pages of Google, it will help ensure the bad days of the pandemic are more quickly forgotten.

I’m pleased to say we had lovely feedback, both during the webinars themselves, and afterwards. We shared experiences, tips, and thoughts, many of which were inspired.

Participants wrote:

  • Thank you! This was very informative and helpful. One of the best presentations I've seen in the last 30 years!

  • Super useful, thank you- some clarity in all this mess

  • Thank you Simon, fabulous webinar. Truly informative.

  • Excellent - many thanks for your timely advice

If we had helped just one business, or organisation, or person get through the coronavirus crisis, then it was a huge win.  And I know, in truth, we will have helped many more than that.

Other trainers, and people with experience in areas of business, life, psychology, coping strategies, team working and so much more have now come forward to offer their expertise to our community of humanity.

Because they sense it’s a case of doing the right thing.


View a recording of the webinar>>

Download a copy of the presentation>>

Download a copy of the handout mentioned in the presentation>>

 

I'm a tutor, lecturer and coach in Communications and Business Skills at the University of Cambridge. I also run my own media, public relations and design consultancy, Creative Warehouse, work in government, and across the private and public sectors.
I can offer communications support in all areas, including:
Branding, reports, investment pitches, presentations and speech writing ~ Conventional and social media ~ Websites ~ Photography and videography ~ Public speaking ~ Crisis communications ~ Building your personal brand

Simon Hall Communications