2020-04-14
Legal Articles

Coronavirus: who is managing your crisis messaging?

Home / Knowledge base / Coronavirus: who is managing your crisis messaging?

Posted by Daniel Jennings on 14 April 2020

Daniel Jennings Partner

As if we needed proof that bad news travels faster than good, we hear more and more reports of bad message management which is causing reputational harm to a number of organisations during the coronavirus crisis.

The latest incident is from a body which does not really have to manage its reputation, namely the Passport Office. Their blunder is good illustration of an error many businesses are making.

On Tuesday 7 April, staff were reportedly told by a Home Office scientific adviser that 80% of people would eventually get Covid-19 and we cannot hide away from it forever.  That was in the context of staff being asked to go back to work following the bank holiday weekend.

Regardless of the rights and wrongs of the science behind that statement, the messaging is awful.  This is an example of a lack of emotional intelligence demonstrated by too many businesses when conveying a message either to staff or customers. 

Sometimes that lack of emotional intelligence can be an institutional failure but, more usually, it is a failure of the person, or people, handling the messaging. They are responsible for making sure the message is clear and understood; as well as ensuring that those communicating the message are on side.  Poor message handling internally can cause great anxiety for employees; but could be even more devastating for the business’ long-term reputation if such a message gets out to the outside world.

In my experience, one of the key triggers for defamation claims is an individual overstepping the mark by either expressing their own opinion, putting their own spin on a message, or perhaps in this case simply failing to understand the wider impact of the message being communicated.

It is critical to have a coherent communications strategy and part of that strategy is being very clear on who communicates what message, when, and how.

If this crisis is teaching businesses anything, it must surely be the importance of having reputation management and crisis management plans in place and being able to ensure their smooth implementation by having staff trained to communicate them effectively.

About the author

Daniel advises clients on all aspects of commercial litigation and dispute resolution.

Daniel Jennings

Daniel advises clients on all aspects of commercial litigation and dispute resolution.

Recent articles

28 May 2020 Guide to restrictive covenants

Employment and consultancy contracts often contain clauses restricting an individual’s working activity when they leave a business. These clauses, ‘post termination restrictive covenants’, typically restrict the ex-staff member’s ability to work in competing businesses, to deal with clients, to try to win business from them, or to poach other staff members.

Read article
28 May 2020 Could COVID 19 bring the end of high rise and cramped living?

On 14 June it will be three years since the Grenfell tower tragedy, global warming is adversely affecting the environment causing floods and other natural disasters, and the country is on lockdown because of coronavirus.

Read article
27 May 2020 Track and Trace: what are the limitations of the new NHS COVID-19 app?

The government’s new NHS Track and Trace app is at the heart of its plans for tackling the coronavirus, lifting the lockdown and helping us all return to normal as soon as possible.

Read article
Contact
How can we help?
01926 732512
CALL BACK