Posts Tagged ‘coronavirus’

Taking away the fear and the power of great communications the KLM way

March 13, 2020

KLM Airlines - Coronavirus

I just received a very clever piece of personalised email correspondence from the President and CEO of KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Pieter Elbers, which was designed to reassure anyone contemplating a flight with them that they are to be trusted during these worrying Coronavirus times.

It was really clever for a number of reasons..

It was Personalised

The email used my name…us customers love that!!

Really understanding the Customers Frame of Mind

The email understood my frame of mind perfectly and took me through a thought process step by step addressing my concerns and “What Ifs”.

The story in my head is that getting on a plane in a confined space with other people at the moment is one of very worst possible things that you could do. How can planes be cleaned between flights efficiently, what about all the places that a person will touch on the plane and what about the air circulation?

As a frequent traveler with KLM, you trust us to not only take you where you need to go, but to do so safely, comfortably and responsibly. Today, as the world comes to terms with an unprecedented health scare in COVID-19 (Corona virus), these values are more important to us than ever

His email addressed my fear and it reassured me step by step what they are doing at KLM to make sure that it is a safe environment.

He spoke about Safety and Hygiene procedures in very specific detail

  • Thorough cleaning and disinfecting before each departure itemising
    • Cleaning of galleys, carpets and toilets
    • Cleaning of tray tables, armrests, headrests and seatbelt buckles
  • Continuous cleaning by cabin crew in the air
  • Cabin air is continually refreshed with outside air
  • Using hospital-grade HEPA filters that are 99.99% effective in preventing airborne bacterial and viral organisms such as COVID-19
  • All flights have special Corona-kits and the team are trained in containment measures
  • Hygiene extends to catering, ingredients are fresh and locally sourced, strict guidelines to preparation

There was a link in the email to a video, which provided more information about hygiene at the airline.

While I was reading this impressive list of hygiene steps I was thinking of course that KLM would say this because they are protecting their interests and spinning the risks in their favour.

This was addressed:

“I fully understand the hesitation many people feel at the moment when deciding whether to book a flight or not. But you can feel secure in the knowledge that KLM has taken every precaution necessary to protect your health and the health of your loved ones.

In this emotional time, you can be assured that we are guided and consistently act by fact-based, circumstance-driven decision making. On a daily basis, we work closely with the top experts at the World Health Organization and Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM) in the Netherlands”

Beyond the Airline

And what about the other things that can go wrong about a journey that might have you unable to take the flight?

I also understand that your concern may not be about your journey with KLM, but about the many unknowns about the situation on the ground at your destination. That’s why you can book your KLM flight with the confidence of being able to change your booking without a change fee

It’s not exactly a refund but ..

Practical Information

The email provided practical information and demonstrated the professionalism of the airline

“We are in constant touch with all the relevant authorities to adjust our network as required. This means that we can immediately respond when new travel restrictions are announced. For the latest information on flight status, please visit our travel advisory page or use the KLM app and let us keep you posted 24/7 with push messages

Proud History and Customer Service Ethos

The email went on to highlight the history of the airline, the number of employees and the customer care ethos

“In 100 years of operations, KLM has faced many challenges and always emerged stronger. We were able to do so because we put you, our customer, at the heart of our operation. With that commitment in mind, I am confident that we will overcome this challenging time as well. As you know 33.000 KLM staff will go further to recognize your concerns and take care of you.”

We always preach to our clients that in their communications that they should weave in their ‘Key Messages’ – this was done here in a very clever, natural way.

Trust, Care, History, Customer Focus, Scale …. many boxes ticked!

Tone and Language 

All of the language used was appropriate, non-corporate and very down to earth and the tone was caring and inclusive, which was sealed in the email sign off

“Thank you for choosing KLM, and safe travels”

A Great Excuse to Communicate with Potential Customers!!

The most clever aspect of all with this email correspondence is that the Coronavirus, despite the horrible scenario, gave KLM a reason to reach out to all of their customers and remind them about their brand and prompt them to possibly think about them when booking flights in the future when things are hopefully back to normal.

It was a really long time since I flew KLM (I’m not sure what the GDPR police would be saying about this!!) but they have made me think about them in a really positive light which brings me to my very last point.

This is Positive PR

KLM have taken the opportunity (in awful circumstances) in a really nice, caring and soft way to reach out and tell a lot of people just how great they are!!

I’ve just told you about them..

So, a huge well done to KLM and their team for a really clever and well timed piece of correspondence that reminds us all about the power of great communications!

Can you do something similar with your customers today?

Greg

Greg Canty is a Partner of Fuzion Communications, a full service Marketing, PR, Graphic Design and Digital Marketing agency with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland

Managing Covid-19 from a HR Perspective

March 12, 2020
Laura powney

Laura Powney, HR & Employment Law Consultant, HR for Better Workplaces

 

We just received an ezine on advice for businesses on how to manage Covid-19 from a HR Perspective from our great friends in HR for Better Workplaces and wanted to share it with you .   It’s written by two well respected HR Professionals, Frank Scott Lennon who has over 40 years experience in HR and is a well renowned author on the subject of HR, and his colleague Laura Powney, who has vast experience as a HR and Employment Law Consultant across a wide range of sectors.

Practical Preventative Advice

  • Produce & display signage encouraging all to wash hands in the correct manner
  • Produce & display signage for the signs and symptoms of corona virus and practical advice on how to limit spreading and contracting it
  • Please ensure any signage you begin to use is from a reputable source, i.e. HSE or WHO
  • Provide sanitizer all around the workplace
  • Nominate a coronavirus (Covid19) Go-to-Person as the link person for your organisation
  • Identify any employees who might be ‘high-risk’ and therefore vulnerable, and put specific plans in place for protecting them

 

Business Continuity Plans

  • Ensure that you have an assigned a Steering Group to develop or oversee a plan for the business in all possible scenarios.
  • Now is the time to begin stress testing plans instead of perhaps waiting until forced to put plans into action and then not being able to fix the issues that arise.
  • A good example of this is perhaps stress testing working from home on a rotational basis by staggering groups of employees now, this to assess the effectiveness and to control the amount of people who remain in contact within the business.  It is also a good rule of thumb to assign these groups so they have a good mix of skills and relevant decision makers in each group.

 

Coronavirus and Illness Benefit Temporary Changes

COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is a new illness that can affect your heart lungs and airways.

The Government has announced that the rules for Illness Benefit and Supplementary Welfare Allowance will be changed to help prevent the transmission of coronavirus. The changes mean that if you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-19 and are medically required to self-isolate, you can get income support. 

Legislation is required to implement these changes and emergency legislation is being prepared.

The main changes are:

  • You will not have to wait 6 days before you can apply for Illness Benefit. This means Illness Benefit can cover the first week of a COVID-19 diagnosis (or medically-required self-isolation) and any subsequent weeks.
  • The personal rate of Illness Benefit will increase from €203 to €305 per week for up to 2 weeks if you are medically required to self-isolate, or for the duration of your medically-certified absence from work with a COVID-19 diagnosis.
  • The normal social insurance requirements for Illness Benefit will be waived, if you are medically required to self-isolate or diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • You can get Supplementary Welfare Allowance without having to pass a means test, if you don’t qualify for Illness Benefit and you are medically required to self-isolate or are diagnosed with COVID-19.

The Government has also stated that self-employed people will be able to get either Illness Benefit or Supplementary Welfare Allowance.

If you have coronavirus symptoms or you have been medically required to self-isolate, you should not visit an Intreo Centre or local Social Welfare Branch Office. You can get information about applying for social welfare payments through My Welfare and you can call 1890 800 024 or (01) 248 1398.

If you are already getting a social welfare payment or you are on an employment programme such as Community Employment (CE) and Tús or a funded training and education programme, you do not need to apply for Illness Benefit. Your existing payment will continue to be paid if you are affected by COVID-19. 

You can find information for employees and employers and income supports on gov.ie.

 

Payments relating to coronavirus (Covid-19)

Employee self-isolating by their own choice and not government guidelines or medical requirement:

No payment is required by law as this is the employee’s own choice

Employee self-isolating by government guidelines or medical requirement:

Illness benefit would be payable to the employee from day 1

Government have now urged all employers to support national public health objectives by continuing, as a minimum, to pay employees who cannot attend work due to Covid-19 illness or self-isolation the difference between the special Illness Benefit rate and their normal wages. This may be achieved through the employer considering a range of flexible working arrangements with their employees such as:

  • compassionate leave
  • allowing the employee to work remotely
  • allowing the staff member to ‘work-up’ any time taken at a future date 
  • allowing the employee to avail of annual leave entitlements
  • rearranging parental leave

A number of income supports are available from the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection for people whose employers do not continue to pay them during a COVID-19 (coronavirus) related absence or temporary lay-off from work.

Employee self-isolating because employer requests when government guidelines or medical requirements do not exist

Full payment to the employee would be required by the employer

 

Other methods of Leave

If you are considering the option of lay-off or short-term working please observe all points below and consider carefully:

  1. It may not be seen as the most supportive measure
  2. It has to exist as a policy in employees signed contract or handbook
  3. If it exceeds a 4-week period an employee can apply to seek redundancy

This measure is a little less appealing in our opinion and should only be used as a last resort when the organisation has explored all other options.

HR for Better Workplaces provides a bespoke consultation service, with over 50 years combined industry experience. They specialise in practical advice and offer a wide range of HR and well-being services.  Both Laura and Frank have been great friends of Fuzion, supporting and working in partnership on many projects and we couldn’t recommend them highly enough.   Laura or Frank can be contacted through their website https://www.hrforbetterworkplaces.ie/

 

 

Covid-19 Communications and Staying Safe

March 10, 2020

The recent news of Covid-19 or coronavirus coming to Ireland is of concern to us all. I am sure you are as glued to the quickly evolving story as we are. 

The HSE is advising the risk of catching Covid-19 in Ireland is still low to moderate, but this may change. However, most people continue to go to work, school and other public places, as usual.

While this advice is still in place, it is best practice to introduce some measures in your workplace such as hand sanitiser at entry points and clear advice about hand washing,  to keep your team and workplace visitors safe and to avoid any possible spread of the virus.  

It is also advisable at this stage to review contingencies around remote working, if this is feasible for all or some members of your team. Another practical approach would be considering remote business meetings, using tools such as Skype, Zoom, Google Meet or Microsoft Teams, so that travel is kept to a minimum. 

Our design team in Fuzion have created an infographic based on the HSE advice that you can use in your office to encourage good hand hygiene. You can get a high resolution version of this poster here

Covid-19 infographic

As well as the potential health impact of Covid-19, we are already seeing economic implications of the virus and your business could be affected during this time of uncertainty. 

The Department of Business, Enterprise  Industry have developed a Business Continuity Checklist that is well worth checking out here.

The Role of Communications

If your business is at risk of being affected, you may have a possible communications crisis issue. In this scenario it is best to ensure you follow the below important steps that we have shared with all of our clients. 

When a crisis occurs, the need to communicate is immediate. Simple steps to ensure this happens can streamline this process:

1- Agreed Spokespeople

When a crisis occurs, it is best to choose spokespeople most suitable for the situation. Identify your key spokesperson and brief them on what’s happening as well as how your organisation is going to move forward. Then move quickly to respond internally with those messages to your employees. The point here is to quickly alleviate any internal fears or concerns in the workforce. 

2– Set up a group on email or Whatsapp only reserved for the crisis with key spokespeople

Crises tend to happen when you least expect them so Whatsapp is recommended so spokespeople can be contacted out of office hours. This group should only have the spokespeople and appropriate decision makers. 

3- Act as soon as possible

If it is not possible to give a comment immediately, ensure the journalist is asked for a deadline and the organisation will get back to them asap. 

If required, Fuzion can assist you with the response to a crisis, or act as a “gatekeeper” for you with the media.  The earlier Fuzion is contacted, the better in order to effectively respond to a crisis or a journalist query for a statement and minimise any damage a crisis can create. 

4- Agree a response/Statement as soon a crisis occurs

In the case of Covid-19, it is best to have a statement prepared so your business demonstrates it is ready and prepared for such a serious issue. This statement should outline how the business has prepared for the crisis and plans to move forward. 

5- Social Media

If appropriate, share your statement on social media and if a crisis happens on social media, it is advised where possible to take the conversation offline and discuss matters either on direct mail or email. 

6- Create a means for monitoring

Once you’ve determined the channel of distribution for your message, monitoring responses is equally critical. 

Careful planning and preparation should encourage readiness for any possible crisis.

However, situations will arise in organisations that may require expert advice and in this case, you can contact Fuzion’s Crisis Communication team here

 

Advice on Covid-19

Advice on Covid -19 from Public Health bodies such as the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the Health Service Executive (HSE) is to minimise infection risk thorough hand-washing, isolating ourselves if we are ill, and avoiding touching our faces. More information on personal care can be found here.

While the period ahead is uncertain, if we can calmly prepare for the unexpected we will be in a much better position to face any possible escalation of the crisis. 

Stay safe and with best wishes

Ciara Jordan and Deirdre Waldron on behalf of The Fuzion Team

 

Crisis communication, coronavirus and the communication tidal wave

February 17, 2020

coronavirus crisis pr

Camera crews filming outside the company headquarters, a mass of media enquiries and employees with a pressing need for information – when new viruses like the coronavirus run rampant and pictures also appear in the main news stories of a deserted Chinese city home to millions of people, stress levels rise in internationally active businesses and crisis units.

Because epidemics like SARS or the coronavirus can completely disrupt operational processes (https://www.manager-magazin.de/politik/weltwirtschaft/newsblog-zum-corona-virus-a-1304435.html), they can lead to temporary site closures, as in the case of the Bavarian automotive supplier.

Against this backdrop, many questions arise within crisis management, including:

  • How does working alongside health authorities actually work? Who speaks to whom and when? And who has authority over whom?
  • What do we do when the virus is directly associated with the company?
  • Which course of action do I choose: Only implement what has been arranged in consultation with the authorities? Or do we go above and beyond, taking additional measures that will be advantageous to our public image?
  • How best to include affected employees?
  • And how do we handle what experience shows will be a tidal wave of media interest?
  • What do pandemics actually mean for customer relations?
  • And what if the crisis team is sent into quarantine?

Crisis prevention is half the battle

In crisis communication, it is common knowledge that crisis prevention is half the battle. But are companies actually prepared for crisis situations associated with epidemics?

Probably not, because events like the coronavirus are rare. Crisis management generally has more experience with crises such as classic product recalls, serious industrial accidents, or economic issues involving site closures or job losses.

Nonetheless, simple rules also apply to pandemics and can be mapped with clever crisis prevention:

  1. Categorise: what does an identified virus mean for operations? In other words: who is affected by and who is involved in the crisis situation?
  2. Responsibility: who is responsible for communication with which target group? In other words: who communicates with employees, authorities, the media, customers, suppliers and third parties, in which way and how often?
  3. Monitoring: how do we immediately know who will comment on the crisis and how, and above all, which tone they will take? How do we catch false alarms?

Whenever the health authorities are involved in a crisis situation triggered by a virus, a company doesn’t necessarily maintain control of its communications. For this reason, companies should run through these kinds of cases with the authorities in good time.

The current coverage of the coronavirus has brought the fact that health risks for employees present their very own crisis topic to the attention of those responsible for communications.

In the actual crisis situation, adjusting to this crisis scenario means having more time available for crisis communication. In the age of global goods flows and an increasingly networked economy, crises like the coronavirus or SARS will recur. For this reason, clever crisis prevention  is useful in limiting potential reputational damage, giving the crisis unit the assurance it needs to be well prepared and avoiding any blunders in the actual crisis situation.

Frank Schroedter

Frank Schroedter is a Crisis Communications specialist with Engel & Zimmermann AG who are part of the CCNE (Crisis Communications Network for Europe), of which Fuzion are a member

 


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