Crisis Communications: preparing to deal with Swine Flu

We’ve all heard the swine flu warnings, but what have you done to prepare your business to deal with a possible outbreak of swine flu? Do you have a public relations plan in place? Take this simple quiz to measure your readiness. Are you:

A. Crossing your fingers and hoping that you won’t be affected?
B. Buying some of these anti-swine flu suits from Japan? (looks great, kills germs!)
C. Coming up with a comprehensive plan to deal with a worst-case scenario?

We developed a comprehensive public relations and employee relations plan for a client who wants to be ready. Their crisis communications plan includes:

• Paying for flu shots for their employees
• Educating employees on symptoms to look for
• Implementing CDC guidelines on dealing with sick employees
• Coordinating an operating plan in case of a major outbreak
• Preparing to deal with media inquiries

So far the impacts of swine flu have been isolated, but major outbreaks are a real possibility.

What will you do if one of your employees is diagnosed with swine flu? If you don’t deal with the public, your only responsibility is to your employees. Will you tell them “Bob’s under the weather,” or will you be up front and tell your employees what they need to know? Do you have a business continuity plan in place? Are you ready to stagger shifts or allow people to work from home?

If you deal with the public, you have another set of concerns. Do you let them know that some of your employees have swine flu? Do you close for a few days for disinfecting? Sure, you’ll lose some revenue, but you have to weigh that against the implications of infecting some of your customers?

What will you tell the media? There’s the phone call you dread. Or worse – the TV station live truck parks out front at 4:30 pm.

There’s no one-plan-fits-for-everyone solution. What everyone has in common is that they need a plan in place – before it’s too late.

Besides, those Japanese suits cost $650 and they don’t even make them for women.