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Pandemic Flu Communication Plan?

October 20, 2009

Got an H1N1 Com Plan?

The current social dynamic is ripe for further discussion for small business owners regarding your internal  communications on this specific topic  about the H1N1 flu.  If you are a small business owner who is only relying on the CDC updates, other news media outlets, the television or the World Health Organization for your sole source of communications and information, then I encourage you to consider leading an internal pandemic communication planning session or two. 

Are you communicating regular useful information to your staff?   Small business owners need to be on notice: first, there are a few reasons why, the pandemic flu is unlike the regular seasonal flu, as the severity of the illness in the pandemic flu is higher, which increases the rate of fatality, and second, all age groups are at risk, including otherwise healthy adults under 40—in other words, the majority of your workforce may be significantly impacted.

Without an employee communication crisis plan or pandemic flu action plan in place your business operations could come to a literal halting stand still.   Whether the 2009 H1N1 Influenza A virus (Swine Flu) situation impacts larger numbers of the human population this fall and winter or not, your small business lessons learned today can help small business owners prepare for improved  internal and external communications tomorrow.

The entire U.S. public health “structure” has been in over drive this season with keeping government leaders, health professionals and the public informed in trying to mitigate the potential spread of the disease, as well as misinformation and panic. 

However, many have found that their agencies or organizations are not adequately prepared to communicate and regularly.  They are learning that their crisis plans need updating in light of evolving larger organization successes and failures to adequately meet public information demands. What is your small business doing? What do you have in place to communicate with your employees and the customers you come in contact with? What is your external message to the public at large?     

You may wish to consider holding a strategic communication planning meeting to discuss some of the following discussion topics and planning suggestions.

  • Examine what are other organizations are doing to keep the public informed about the current pandemic.
  • What are the challenges and strategies for addressing large scale, fast moving and ongoing situations?
  • How will you balance precautions while avoiding panic and over reaction?
  • How will communicate quickly and correctly in a world dominated by tweets, social media, and blogs?
  • Will you communicate across all channels or just email? How will you do it simultaniously?
  • How will you collaborate between different agencies & organizations critical to an effective response at your level?
  • How will you keep an information flow of updates if websites crash under the load & if IT restrictions slow your efforts?
  • How will you watch and plan for rumors, misinformation and what willl be your course of action/response?
  • How does this pandemic level 6 crisis differ from other types and what does it means for communication team as front line responders?
  • If required or ordered, how do you plan to continue to work while maintaining social distance and communications with your staff virtually to maintain business operations? Have you communicated this to your employees and regularly with updates?

I would be interested to hear more from others about what plans small business owners have created or are creating?  And, if you have not created any internal employee pandemic communication plans, then will you be doing so and then move directly from planning to an implementation phase in the next 30 days? And, why or why not?

I am providing a basic overview from an article I read that is a tad dated, but it offers some additional reading on Pandemic employee communication planning suggestions. For real time reporting, I am providing a map tracking the H1N1 Flue cases noted in the World.  You may zoom into your local geographic area and click on the red diamond for your state to obtain a visual of the  number of H1N1 cases.

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