Agency and in-house comms pros have tapped into a LinkedIn group titled Communicating about Coronavirus to share tips and to ensure they’re working off of officially sanctioned information.
The group has 125 members and was started a week ago by Ian Lipner, an SVP at Levick.
“I wondered how people in business were communicating about this and did a search on LinkedIn for a group,” Lipner said. “There wasn't one yet, and it occurred to me that such a group should be started by credentialed communicators that are responsibly using guidance from the right authorities.”
Content shared on the group includes public letters from major institutions, such as MIT, Cornell University and Stanford University, decision making advice from the CDC, news stories about Apple, advice for people managing employees at the United Nations and op-ed pieces by Edelman CEO Richard Edelman.
Olivier Salgado, a deputy director of communications and spokesperson at United Nations, joined the group so his comms team could be better prepared with best practices after someone at his organization was “hit by a suspicious case” but ended up testing negative for the virus.
“I shared U.N. available public information in case anyone in this group needed to find inspiration,” he said. “I have also shared situation reports by WHO for the latest data, media resources, advice for the public, travel advice, technical guidance and video explainers.”
Kglobal MD Dan Rene, who used to work with Lipner, said he invited him to join the LinkedIn group. Rene noted that he sees value in communicators sharing experiences and best practices in relation to coronavirus.
“I am working with several clients to assist with communicating around this issue — many are looking to figure out how to communicate both internally and externally to meet their diverse audience concerns,” said Rene. “Many want to go beyond just sharing the more sterile CDC guidelines.”
While helpful, the advice from the group or any similar resource should be a starting point, Rene advised. Comms pros should always be sure they’re tailoring any advice to the situation or client they’re working with.
“I would advise against using the group as a cut-and-paste option the way too many people in our industry try to do,” he said. “Effective communications must be developed thoughtfully and without the cookie cutters.”
Meanwhile, the PR Council released a guide advising its member agencies on how to handle “pauses” in their contracts as the coronavirus epidemic disrupts business operations; and North 6th Agency has also provided corporate comms pros with tips for talking to both employees and customers about coronavirus.