As the swine flu outbreak continues to dominate headlines, corporate communicators are dealing with what exactly to tell employees.
With the first U.S. death from swine flu occurring at a Houston hospital, residents here may be on a heightened state of alert.
But even before this occurred, local employers had already begun to communicate with employees about the international outbreak.
We took a very informal poll of local corporate communications professionals earlier this week. Here’s a brief look at how these communicators are handling the swine flu message:
• As with all employee communications, the messages were calm and dealt with facts, not conjecture.
• Most either provided information from or linked directly to the CDC’s swine flu website. This authoritative site offers frequent updates on the status of the outbreak and gives practical tips on staying healthy.
• Companies with overseas operations provided details about any travel restrictions.
• Several companies assured employees that a crisis management plan was in place to deal with a potential outbreak and provided a link to the plan.
• In some cases the messages came from the Human Resources department; in others, the Corporate Communications department took the lead.
Bottom line: The underlying message from major companies appears to be the same as it is in all crisis communications: The company is aware of and monitoring the situation and has preparations in place to deal with it.
Contributed by Christi Dunn, Manager of Public Relations – Dynegy