Pandemic Didn’t Just Sneak Up on Us
By Sheryl McAlister
“In the event of pandemic influenza, businesses will play a key role in protecting employees’ health and safety as well as limiting the negative impact to the economy and society. Planning for pandemic influenza is critical. Companies that provide critical infrastructure services…have a special responsibility to plan for continued operation in a crisis and should plan accordingly. As with any catastrophe, having a contingency plan is essential.”
This quote is from the United States Department of Health & Human Services. It is dated April, 2006.
The information was part of a larger communications strategy I helped to create many years ago when I worked as a communications executive for a large corporation. I was also part of the company’s business continuity team, and the original plan was developed in the context of SARS and the Avian flu.
Research in the plan went on to suggest that experts estimated that 40 percent of the workforce could be absent during a pandemic.
The plan’s communications strategy provided guiding principles for effectively communicating during a pandemic:
- Tone is important. Develop communications to create awareness and educate, while not creating panic.
- Measured and disciplined approach both internally and externally to all audiences.
The document is titled: Influenza Pandemic Response: Communication Approach & Tactics. It is dated May 11, 2006. Still sound advice today.
Was it prescient? Or just good business? It doesn’t matter; both government and big business knew this was coming.
So to all those leaders, companies and front-line foot soldiers – both civilian and military — who have risen to the challenge, thank you.
Copyright © 2020 Sheryl McAlister.