Why and how communicators must address the coronavirus outbreak

Internal messaging should inform employees and outline steps to keep them healthy. Externally, companies can help quash misinformation and actively support health organizations’ efforts.

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As the coronavirus spreads, health care organizations worldwide are working hard to treat patients, learn about the virus and disseminate accurate information.

Those last two are also crucial for corporate communicators and PR pros.

The global health emergency has disrupted operations of travel industry companies and businesses with international operations. It has affected higher education institutions that enroll Chinese students.

Many U.S. businesses, including Apple and Starbucks, have closed their outlets in China. Airlines have suspended flights to and from China. Passengers returning from China who may have been exposed to the virus are being tested. Those with signs of infection or exposure to the virus are being quarantined.

All the while, fear and misinformation have spread on social media. At the forefront of distributing information to the public and employees are the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other public health organizations along with corporate communications professionals. Domestic organizations that now seem far removed from coronavirus may soon find themselves communicating health care and travel information.

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