Chief empathy officers; Managing media requests; Employee burnout; and more

Here’s a roundup of the week’s crisis communication news for communicators.


Here are the top 10 tips and takeaways from the week ending April 10 taken from our Crisis Communications Daily newsletter. Be sure to subscribe here to get this daily roundup directly in your inbox.


CEOs are now “chief empathy officers.” Edelman shares examples and tips for how your top executive can be a caring and supportive leader through this crisis. Your CEO is a key spokesperson for your response with employer communications being the top-rated source of information for audiences about the COVID-19 pandemic.

How should you prioritize media requests in the current crisis? Stakeholders need to hear from you—and internal team members deserve to get updates before external audiences. Here are some tips from Ragan Consulting Group’s Nick Lanyi on how to triage your media relations strategy.

Burnout looms for agencies working overtime to respond to COVID-19. Some are reporting working every weekend and after hours to meet goals. Employees say that even when leaders push for employees to take time for themselves, sometimes teams won’t follow the directive.

Digiday reported:

The feeling of needing to be “always on” isn’t necessarily coming from agency leadership, according to employees who say that leadership has reiterated in town halls for employees to take time for themselves.

In COVID-19 response, consistency is key. Trader Joe’s has suffered as employees report varying messages and plans to adjust to the health crisis, in part a reflection of the grocery chain’s decentralized command structure. Its struggles are a reminder that a positive reputation (it had been widely-recognized as an exemplary employer) can be quickly damaged in a crisis.

As you settle in for the long haul, consider employees’ needs. Here’s what some communicators and PR pros say you can do to prepare for the next phase in your COVID-19 response. Here’s a hint: It’s all about your employees.

Tesla targets May 4 return in email furloughing workers and cutting paychecks. The electric car company says it expects to resume operations next month, but carefully outlined necessary measures until then, including furloughs. If your organization is facing similar choices, offer as much information as possible, but avoid giving false hope. Only time will tell if Tesla can indeed resume in May.

An internal podcast might be the tool you need to connect remote workers. The on-demand, asynchronous nature of podcast feeds makes it a perfect tool for getting updates to your dispersed workforce. Here’s how companies like Salesforce already use this technology.

Take extra care when sharing layoff news virtually. Many companies have to furlough or layoff workers, all while being unable to meet in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some important do’s and don’ts.

Amazon employees walk off after automated message about COVID-19 diagnosis. Employees say they still have doubts that Amazon is doing everything it can to keep them safe. An automated message about something so sensitive might be ill-advised.

Business Insider reported:

Workers at the sorting facility in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, were informed via an automated message that someone who had been on-site April 2 was infected with the novel coronavirus.

“When the automated phone call started coming through, people started freaking out,” one employee told Business Insider.

Recommit to transparency when onboarding remotely. Many organizations will still be hiring employees during the lockdown, and that will require HR and communicators to get creative. New employees are likely to feel more uncertain and unsettled, so make sure leadership is taking the extra time to welcome and include new arrivals.

Employees need extra help following the latest CDC regulations. Starbucks is sharing tutorials for employees to make compliant face coverings as they have started to require workers to wear masks while working. The chain only operates drive-throughs at the current time.


For more insights on how to manage through a crisis, join Ragan’s Crisis Leadership Board.


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