Coronavirus-Communications Support

Coronavirus-Communications Support

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April 5, 2021

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Public Relations and Media Support Related to COVID-19 – Services for COPIC Insureds
COPIC recognizes that many health care professionals are finding themselves in a role that they didn’t train for—communications representative. They are being asked to respond to media inquiries and/or to participate in town hall meetings or public discussions. It can be a challenge to prepare for these situations during a crisis, especially if this is a new role for them. COPIC wants to help. We have a contract in place with a well-respected public relations/media consultant and we are expanding their  services to include one-on-one support for our insureds who find themselves in this uncharted water.  

If you find yourself in this position, please review the best practices guidelines below. If you would like additional support, please call our Patient Safety and Risk Management department at (720) 858-6396 during business hours, and if it is after hours and is an urgent situation, call our 24/7 Risk Management Hotline at (720) 858-6270 or (866) 274-7511. We will gather the basic information and determine the urgency. The consultant will respond in a timely manner.

Services that can be provided include: 
• Consulting/coaching/best practices for situations where there is, or is anticipated to be, negative media coverage, social media concerns, or online reputation management.
• Best practices when responding to media inquiries.
• Coaching to be better prepared to respond in these situations.   
• Strategic counsel at the front end of a crisis and ongoing counsel, as needed.
• Message development:
     o Media statements
     o Talking points for patient/customer communications
     o COVID-19 media discussions

General Communication Guidance
As health experts in your respective communities, the way you communicate about COVID-19 to patients, the general public, and staff/employees is very important. In addition, there is a high likelihood that you will be asked by media and others for information about the COVID-19 pandemic. Accurate and timely information is critical during this time, and we offer this these guidelines as a quick reference guide.

General Communication Guidelines 
Be compassionate. Ensure your communications are first and foremost about those directly impacted, as well as the health and well-being of your staff, patients, and community-at-large.
Be targeted. Focus messages on the right audience(s) to ensure what you are communicating is reaching the appropriate target audience(s). Use multiple channels to communicate critical information, but be sure that your message is consistent across these channels.
Be honest and transparent. Personal communications from your leadership (e.g., CEO or Chief Medical Officer) are important and impactful, and it is crucial that you are honest with the information you share. 
Be accurate. It is completely acceptable to copy and paste information from credible organizations (e.g., CDC, AMA, HHS, your state health department), just be sure to cite the source and link to the original document or reference it. It is essential that you, as the health experts in your community, communicate timely and accurate information.
Be prepared. To the extent you are able, prepare content in advance for worst-case or anticipated scenarios. The following templates are designed to help with that. 
Don’t get political. If asked by media or others about the response from government (federal, state or local), respond with something like: “There will be a time for that evaluation, but our primary focus now is on caring for our community and stopping the spread of this virus as quickly as possible.”

Media Guidelines 
• There is no such thing as “off the record.” Any conversation or email communication you have with a reporter can be used.
• You are never obligated to talk to media.
• “No comment” should never be used as a response because it comes across as defensive.
• If you receive a call or email from the media, you do not have to respond right way. Take time to research who they are and prepare your messages before responding.
• “I don’t know” is a perfectly acceptable response. If you are not 100% certain of the answer, offer to follow up. 
• Protecting patients’ privacy must always be a priority. Never speculate with the media about an issue and never discuss a particular patient’s case publicly (even if the reporter has the patient’s name/information).
• Don’t be argumentative.
• Confine yourself to your area of expertise. Strive to be brief and to use common terms.
• Medical offices, facilities, and homes are private property and the media may not be allowed on your property without permission.