Nine Considerations for COVID-19 Crisis Planning

Mar 30, 2020 Beth Monaghan

The best way to manage a crisis is to plan in advance when you have the wisdom and clarity of perspective. COVID-19 is forcing every organization to think through its crisis preparedness, and it’s not too late to create your plan. We have created a template to help speed the time between planning and readiness. 

Before you dive into the tactics, pull out your company values and read them again. Your crisis plan should reflect these -- values become meaningless when an organization only lives them when times are good. Your values will inform everything from when to close your offices, to which expenses get cut first. Then consider your culture. If your values inform what you do, your culture informs how you do it. It’s even more critical at a time when everyone is virtual. 

As you work through this plan, may I recommend a mantra? Be open, honest, calm and accessible. Your humanity has never been more important. You’re going to need to communicate more than you think. And authentic communication delivered in a calm tone can help any audience pull together and weather difficult times. 

Following are the nine considerations that should factor into your crisis plan:

  1. Who makes the decisions? And how will you communicate with them?
  2. How will you get updates? Who is in charge of monitoring the news, federal statutes (which are changing quickly, like the recent The Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Employer Paid Leave Requirements), and local health and municipal authorities for each of your offices. These updates come fast -- often by the hour. 
  3. What new procedures do you need? Do your sick time and paid leave policies need to be updated? Will you change the way people notify the business if they are sick? What needs to change as your business goes virtual?
  4. What is your communications flow? When decisions are made (sometimes very quickly), how will those be communicated to your audiences and by whom? How will this be coordinated?
  5. What are your worst case scenarios? We all hope these won’t happen, but as I mentioned, it’s better to plan for the worst and hope for the best than to be caught in the worst and not know what to do.
  6. Are your media holding statements ready? You’ll need one for every crisis scenario. Our template plan above includes sample statements. Are you ready to answer questions about outbreaks within your company, potential employee deaths, lay-offs? Do you have one about your business continuity plan?
  7. Is your spokesperson prepared? Don’t leave this one to chance, even when things are rushed. Practice works out the kinks and clarifies the message. 
  8. Do you have a built-in feedback mechanism? How will you understand how your employees, customers and partners are reacting to what you are doing? How will you respond to those reactions? 
  9. Is your plan centralized? It needs to be to protect employee confidentiality so you can decide and act quickly, and so that a cohesive set of decision-making criteria are deployed across all offices.


Communicate often. Be open, honest, calm, and accessible. And if you need other PR resources for COVID-19, check out our toolkit.

Topics: crisis management
Beth Monaghan

Beth is the CEO of InkHouse, which she co-founded in 2007 and has grown into one of the top ranked agencies in the country. Beth’s been recognized as one of the Top Women in PR by PR News, the Top 25 Innovators by The Holmes Report and as an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year finalist. Beth believes that shared values, and the freedom to create are the foundations of all meaningful work. She brings this philosophy to building a culture of creative progress at InkHouse.

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