COVID-19: A Crisis Communicator’s Perspective

When Covalent Logic was formed toward the end of 2005, it happened in the middle of a crisis. In fact, it’s more accurate to say it happened because of a crisis: Hurricane Katrina. Covalent Logic Founder and President Stafford Wood worked with Louisiana government officials on crucial communications in the fallout of the catastrophic storm, and out of that chaos and uncertainty arose an award-winning, industry-leading integrated communications firm now nearing its fifteenth year in operation.

But today’s crisis is unlike anything in modern memory. It’s shutting down schools, businesses and normal life as a whole, and it’s happening everywhere with no clear end in sight. And, even though Covalent staff are considered essential personnel and exempt from the state of Louisiana’s stay-at-home order, most are working from home to join with the rest of the country in flattening the curve of coronavirus infections and minimizing its impact on hospitals. And while this shift has certainly changed business as usual, it doesn’t mean slowing down. On the contrary, the needs of clients and communities are changing and in some cases growing as a result of the pandemic, and this is where we can do our part to work with them and help fulfill those needs.

This means being reactive, responsive and resilient, making a concerted effort to help our clients adapt to this new environment as we do so ourselves. Sometimes this is just a matter of being available and keeping the lines of communication open. And sometimes it means working after hours or weekends because people are depending on the services we provide, such as the state officials who rely on us to get vital COVID-19 information out to hundreds of thousands.

Adaptability is a critical skill for any business at this time, including Covalent. Customers are asking for us to be flexible and adjust our services to meet their new needs, and that is what we will do. We know that in times like these, things can change quickly, and as problem solvers we must adapt and change with them.

The thing to remember about an economic crisis is that it doesn’t hit every industry in the same way, and it doesn’t hit every part of the world in the same way either. So international businesses will feel pains in some locations but not others, and while some opportunities will be lost others will appear.

Tourism has been hit hard all around the world. But Italy’s empty hotels are being transformed into makeshift hospitals to accommodate new patients, and this is something that is likely to happen elsewhere in the coming weeks. Also, our client, Shell Geismar, is now receiving new orders specifically because of the outbreak. And the chemicals they produce will help to create sanitation products, which are in high demand.

In the same way, Tito’s Vodka has begun to bottle hand sanitizer. Why? Because the country needs a lot of hand sanitizer right now, and hand sanitizer needs to be 60-percent alcohol to work – and Tito’s can make a lot of alcohol.

Tito’s is doing what is good for their business, they’re doing what’s good for the healthcare crisis, and they’re doing what is good for the community. They are being responsive to the needs of those around them and doing what they must to keep all of their people employed. Rather than saying, “Hey, now’s a good time to drink!” they are shifting their business to what is needed.

So, just as these industries are adapting to the coronavirus, we are too, because our clients depend on us. While much of our work remains the same, in some ways it’s more important than ever before. We’ve got to be professional. We’ve got to be responsive. And we’ve got to believe that self-isolating and working remotely will have a real effect on flattening the curve and slowing the spread of coronavirus.

There is no doubt we will all come out of this much stronger. But for now, it is a time to focus, to work hard and to help others. And this is what we will do for each of our clients.

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