Company communication can ease insecurity, experts say

Stöhlker says the attacks were also an attack against world governance of the global economy Keystone

In the aftermath of terrorist attacks in the United States, not only must governments find the words to reassure citizens, international firms must clearly communicate with employees, according to a prominent Swiss public relations adviser.

This content was published on September 12, 2001 minutes

According to some experts, effective communication can calm employees' fears, and prevent panic.

"At the moment there is a huge kind of insecurity and the leaders of the global economy have to change this," Klaus J. Stöhlker told swissinfo.

Communication needs to be part of a company's strategy following an act of terrorism, he said.

Obligation to customers

"The big Swiss companies...I think there are about 30 of them...have an obligation to explain to their customers and their employees what all this means and if they are not able to do that they are missing really a huge chance," Stöhlker said.

"Swiss companies feel themselves part of the international community and I'm sure that in the next weeks and months we need a lot of explanation."

"We have a corporate responsibility in Switzerland, in Europe and in the global markets and we have to define new measures how to communicate with the public at large," he added.

"The US government has to convince not only its people but that of the whole world that it is able to handle this case," he said, adding that the attacks also targeted world governance of the global economy.

"There are no assurances that further attacks will not take place so a lot of communication is necessary to give people security," he said.

Another communications expert, Christian König, CEO of the Farner public relations company, echoed the vital role of communication after such an event.

The attacks present a classic case of issue management, he said.

"A lot of companies are prepared for this and they can follow the good example of the US officials who did an excellent job on Tuesday evening," he told swissinfo.

Form a team

"You have to form a quick reaction team, you must ensure monitoring of the situation, you have to channel all the external news you can get, centralise the function of a spokesman, you have to have your communication platform updated, and keep a diary of events," he explained.

"If you are going to speak to the press, you have to do rehearsals before, even in a crisis."

"There is also an absolute need to be with the people affected, to show compassion and to act accordingly."

König said he thought every company had to be active in such a situation because there was an enormous need for information.

"The companies should come in as an institution and reassure the employees and their business partners that they are really dealing with the situation, that they are taking it seriously and explaining what they are doing about it," he said.

König's company puts the essential of crisis communication in a nutshell on its website: "The essence of good crisis communications is to put a stop to speculation and panic reactions with honesty and forthrightness".

swissinfo with agencies

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