On the 30th of January 2020, the World Health Organization declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern due to the novel Coronavirus Pandemic (COVID – 19 Virus). Since its discovery, the COVID- 19 viruses have spread to every continent except for Antarctica. Several persons have lost their source of income and businesses that are considered non-essential have been forced to close their doors. This is a ‘crisis’ and must be addressed by organizations to their stakeholders through an effective ‘Holding Statement’.
Larger businesses would have had the privileges of hiring a ‘Crisis Manager’ who can effectively plan and execute a ‘Crisis Communication Plan’, however many small to medium-size enterprises may not be able to do so. ‘Crisis Communication’ is used to protect the reputational assets of an organization. Whether it at the initial stage of the crisis or after the crisis, statements are used to communicate to all the necessary stakeholders.
The ‘Holding Statement’ is the initial statement that is designed to help control the message to the targeted public immediately as the crisis hits. It states the basic facts of an incident and helps people know how their organization is actively dealing with the crisis at hand. This is a ‘Proactive Statement’ response; this statement is communicated immediately and can be delivered at a press conference or through your organization’s social channels for your targeted publics to see. You may even choose to release this statement to the media to get ahead of the story.
This statement is needed if:
– the crisis has already attracted a lot of interest from the media or the public
– there are any legal requirements to issue a statement
– any of your stakeholder well-being is at risk
You can also prepare ‘Reactive Statements’; these are statements that are prepared and ready but may be put on hold until they are needed. These statements are in anticipation of any additional issues that may arise.
Here are 3 tips to help you write a holding statement surrounding COVID -19 Virus:
1. Show Empathy or Compassion
It is vital that your organization show some form of concern about the current situation. Make mention of your concerns about the safety of your customers/clients and staff. Also, show compassion by showing support for first responders of the COVID – 19 threat.
Even though you are preparing this holding statement to be sent immediately it is important to state your intentions to take action to deal with the crisis at hand. You want to mention procedures to protect your customers/clients and staff. If you are unsure about what actions to take, you can advise your stakeholders that you are looking into the matter and will seek professional help on how to move forward.
Reassure your stakeholders. Ensure that they see the efforts to act and that you are fully aware of the risks of the crisis. Ensure you do not make unrealistic promises.
Here are examples of a few holding statements:
An effective holding statement will address the initial concerns of your organizer’s stakeholders. It will help to show concern, state a plan of action and add reassurance; this statement is a proactive statement. All crisis is dealt with differently and news can evolve and as such other reactive statements are needed and must be published once a predicted situation arises that needs addressing.
I hope this blog answered your questions, we have a very bumpy road ahead and I sincerely hope that all entrepreneurs keep the faith during these hard times. Think of ways to diversify your business and take advantage of technology. Wayne Dyer, internationally renowned author and, the speaker in the field of self-development said “If you believe it will work out, you’ll see opportunities. If you believe it won’t, you will see obstacles”.