By Andy Likes, Senior Vice President at The Vandiver Group in St. Louis, Missouri
As global anxiety grows over the quick spread of a strain of coronavirus, or COVID-19, we seem to forget we’ve been here before. While coronavirus is a new (novel) respiratory illness, that can be both serious and deadly, the threat of global illnesses is nothing new. Names like SARS, MERS, Bird Flu, norovirus and H1N1 have entered and exited the media spotlight over the last decade. They are not gone, but they’ve entered the regular protocols for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
While the number of cases of coronavirus may be unsettling, they are no scarier than the cases of Influenza A and B that, we deal with every year. CDC stats show more people have tragically died from the flu, between 12,000 and 60,000 people every year, than any of these novel viral strains to date. This is a great reminder to follow regular hygiene protocols: stay home when you are sick, wash your hands regularly, and call your doctor if you show symptoms, particularly a fever. But, there is no reason to panic.
For schools, businesses and organizations, coronavirus is a reminder to have a crisis plan ready. TVG has worked on these global viruses for clients before; H1N1 (Swine Flu), norovirus and yes, even this year’s coronavirus. We treat these issues as a crisis, because, as we’ve seen in the media, there is great potential for business interruption. Airlines are canceling flights, stock markets are fluctuating amid global concerns, and people are stocking up on supplies due to the uncertainty of what may happen.
How is your business preparing and responding? Having a crisis communications plan, one that includes internal and external communications, along with proactive and reactive social media posting and monitoring, is essential. At TVG, we go one step further and often facilitate scenarios and detailed drills for clients. Practicing what to do in a crisis situation gives executives, leaders, managers and staff the confidence to deal with potential issues, concerns and the media. Our team of experts is there every step of the way, helping clients navigate a crisis before it strikes, during the worst and after it’s passed.
To find out more about TVG’s crisis communications, what we’ve done on respiratory illnesses and more, please call us at 314-991-4641 or visit www.tvgpr.com. To learn more about coronavirus, visit www.cdc.gov.