How do you put employees first in a crisis? How does your organisation prioritise its people?

If you want to learn about crisis comms, check your thinking and plan for the future, I urge you to have Amanda Coleman’s brand new book Crisis Communication Strategies to hand. I had the pleasure of reading a preview copy at the start of the year, it’s a cracking read and is now hot off the press.

Her detailed and thoughtful approach means this book is a must-read for professional communicators. Whether it’s your first or countless crisis, you’ll find it an invaluable resource. I particularly like her focus on wellbeing, the role of leaders and strong advice on resilience and next steps.

This is the book we all needed ahead of COVID-19, but there is so much in there you can use today. Use it to help shape your work as you navigate the COVID-19 pandemic and we learn to live with Coronavirus.

I’m delighted to welcome Amanda to my blog to share what you can expect from reading it. Crisis Communication Strategies has just been published by Kogan Page and All Things IC’s readers can save 20% using my discount code ALLTHINGSIC20 via the Kogan Page website.

Amanda Coleman is a crisis communication consultant and a Fellow of both the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) and The Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA). With 20 years’ experience working in emergency services communication, she is the former Head of Corporate Communications for Greater Manchester Police and has managed some significant crises including the Manchester Arena terrorist attack in 2017, riots in 2011, the murder of two police officers in 2012, and the death of the Chief Constable in 2008.

She wrote for my blog back in 2011 about the riots and is regularly asked to speak at conferences around the world. Amanda has been involved in European studies of crisis communication, law enforcement and social media crisis use. In 2019, she was the Chair of the PRCA Council.

I’ll hand you over…

Putting employees first in a crisis

More than 18 months ago when I was starting to write a book about crisis communication it seemed quite radical to dedicate two chapters to employees and wellbeing. But in a world where we are dealing with Covid-19, putting employees first has become the priority.

The current pandemic has shown that making sure employees understand what is happening, how they can help and feel supported is fundamental to the response. It is people who are affected by the crisis and it will be people, in the shape of employees, who will respond to it and manage the situation. Internal communication has been elevated to a critical function within any business the challenging is going to be ensuring it remains in that place.

In my book Crisis Communication Strategies I wrote:

Employee engagement is the foundation to any successful organisation and valuing staff remains important throughout the incident and into the recovery phase.

As the initial impact of Covid-19 becomes a distant memory and some elements of the lockdown are released businesses must not just return to how things operated in the past. Everyone in the workforce, no matter what the business is, have been through a traumatic experience, some have lost loved ones, some have been ill, and some have experienced stress and anxiety. All this impact cannot be underestimated.

Employers that recognise what has happened and can see the impact that it has had on the employees will be able to build a better future through the recovery phase. It will require a significant focus on the wellbeing of employees and that needs to sit firmly with, or alongside, the internal communication team. Getting it right will mean a workforce committed to the organisation feeling supported and able to move forward. But fail at this significant time and at its worst it could mean the end of the business.

What matters now for internal communication teams is that they build on the amazing work that they have been doing. They need to guide employees forward and into the future however that may look and they need to continually remind those at the top or making decisions about where people have come from.

The employees need to still come first.

What’s in the book:

  • Section – ONE: The lead up;
    • Chapter – 01: Are you ready for a crisis?;
    • Chapter – 02: Help recognise a crisis;
  • Section – TWO: During the crisis;
    • Chapter – 03: The operational response;
    • Chapter – 04: The people – Communicating internally and externally;
    • Chapter – 05: The leaders – The role of business leadership in a crisis;
    • Chapter – 06: The community – The impact on the business, the wider community and elsewhere;
  • Section – THREE: The aftermath;
    • Chapter – 07: Support – Resilience, wellbeing and rebuilding in both the short term and long term;
    • Chapter – 08: The recovery – Returning to day-to-day business;
    • Chapter – 09: Where next?

Post author: Amanda Coleman.

Thank you Amanda. You can find her on Twitter @AmandaComms or see her blog.

Further reading about crisis comms and COVID-19 via the All Things IC blog

Thank you for stopping by

Rachel

First published on the All Things IC blog 6 May 2020.

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