Three agencies join forces to create COVID-19 readiness and response team

Hybrid comms agency Unity, reputational risk law firm Schillings, and crisis comms and consultancy Vigo have joined forces to create a multidisciplinary COVID-19 readiness and response team.

The combined COVID-19 response team is being led by (L-R): Amy Pope at Schillings, Gerry Hopkinson at Unity, and Patrick d’Ancona at Vigo
The combined COVID-19 response team is being led by (L-R): Amy Pope at Schillings, Gerry Hopkinson at Unity, and Patrick d’Ancona at Vigo

The agencies have combined their expertise to offer the service from today (Monday) in response to what they said was increased demand from their clients for expert counsel and support.

Vigo, which offers crisis management and corporate advice, and Schillings, which provides strategic crisis counsel, will join Unity in offering a multidisciplinary service across legal, financial and communications.

Its focus will be on helping businesses and brands prepare for and respond to the wider commercial and reputational challenges of COVID-19.

The agencies said companies were facing a blizzard of information and media coverage and were looking for strategic support to help deliver actions “founded on experience and science rather than fear and anecdote”.

The new team is led by Amy Pope, partner at Schillings and former deputy Homeland Security advisor to the Obama administration during the 2014 Ebola outbreak; Patrick d’Ancona, managing director of Vigo and a veteran in corporate advisory and crisis comms; and Gerry Hopkinson, chief executive and founder of brand reputation consultancy Unity.

The team said it had created a product that aims to “immunise a business from reputational risk within 14 days” and would help assess or create policies, consider risk profile and threats, and craft messaging, as well as train spokespeople.

Hopkinson said of the launch: “Whether or not a business is currently affected, it is sensible to have a plan in place for staff, customers, wider stakeholders and shareholders. This requires a multidisciplinary approach, which is why we have created a team covering legal, comms, investor relations, corporate advisory and reputation and risk management expertise under one roof.”

Pope added: “We have been receiving a lot of requests from very worried clients, wanting to understand how best to prepare and mitigate risk, as well as best look after their people and customers.”

And d’Ancona said: “We are learning a lot about COVID-19 each day, but we already know the dizzying array of ways in which it can cause damage. While we continue to learn more, we must adapt to rapidly changing circumstances and respond in a resilient and empathetic manner.”

At time of publication, the number of confirmed cases in the UK exceeded 300, with four deaths, while worldwide the figure for confirmed cases stood at 107,000 with 3,600 deaths.

Last week, the government launched a major comms offensive to prepare the general public for a wider outbreak of coronavirus.

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