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Risk Managers: What’s Your Plan for a Public Relations Crisis?

Risk Managers: What’s Your Plan for a Public Relations Crisis?

​Companies have no shortage of business risks to avoid, with the COVID-19 pandemic, a labor shortage and rising consumer costs all at the top of this year’s management ticket.One risk that may supersede them all, however, is damage to a company’s reputation. Case in point: According to a recent survey from Willis Towers Watson, 75.5 percent of the risk managers surveyed said their C-suite “was either somewhat or very committed or invested to managing reputational risk.” Nearly 80 percent said their company would be more committed to brand protection in the next five years than it is right now.Facing Down Reputational Risk: An Action PlanIf a public relations crisis does occur, companies need to address it quickly and decisively, before events spiral out of control and consume the company. Corporate decision-makers looking for guidance on handling a public relations crisis can take these steps.Brace for impact. In August, Delta Airlines announced it was going to charge employees an additional $200 per month for health insurance if they didn’t get the COVID-19 vaccine. Since Delta announced the vaccine-related insurance premiums, its stock price has fallen over 5 percent. Feelings on COVID-19 vaccines run hot, so public relations experts say company leaders need to be prepared for the backlash if they insert the corporation’s brand into a heated national health policy debate.To address a controversial decision that could negatively impact a big consumer brand like Delta, be direct with the public, advised John Millen, managing partner at Millen Group, an employee benefits advisory firm in Richmond, Va. “Act quickly and decisively,” Millen said. “This may go against the instinct and guidance of hired consultants, but … own the issue and take the hit.”Delta did wind up keeping the insurance premium intact, but major media companies have pointed out the uphill climb companies face by getting directly involved with employee health decisions. Reflect and collect before reacting. While quick and decisive action is important, try to gather as much information and as many facts as possible before reacting. “Recklessness will make the situation worst,” said Courtney Quigley, a reputational brand consultant with Rize Reviews, a brand management consultancy in Arlington, Texas. “Assign one spokesperson to avoid inconsistent messages or statements. Create a statement and distribute it to all employees. Also, be transparent with your employees on what is happening. Ensure they know how to react to the situation, and [advise them to] steer any inquiries to the assigned company spokesperson.”Build a brand management team that’s ready to go. The primary goal of any executive in a crisis should be to limit the damage and control the problem. “That’s why it’s important to have a communications team—whether in-house or contracted—[that] can handle media relations during a crisis while the executive leadership team works to end the problem as soon as possible,” said Stephanie McCay, director of U.S. communications for PCL Construction, a construction company in Denver. “Media training is critical in the event your executive does have to address the media.”Get the cameras rolling. …

Italy Implements Mandatory Green Pass for Workers

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Italy Implements Mandatory Green Pass for Workers

​Gero Bongiorno works as the head of research and development at an industrial machinery company in Milan, which is preparing for Italy’s Green Pass for workers. As the Oct. 15 implementation date for the Green Pass approaches, Bongiorno isn’t worried about his own direct reports, who are fully vaccinated. But there are other people in the company who aren’t. Employers and Employees Prepare for Green PassItaly’s Green Pass—a domestic COVID-19 passport that indicates if someone is fully vaccinated or has tested negative for the virus in the last 72 hours—has been required at restaurants, entertainment venues and other public places, but will soon be required for any employees who are working onsite. “The employer is obliged to verify whether people working in the work environment have the Green Pass,” said Vittorio De Luca, an attorney with De Luca & Partners in Milan. Verification can be done occasionally, he said. “There must be a policy applicable in the company stating who is responsible to check how and whom, which information may and which may not be checked, and what happens in the case of [the] lack of [a] Green Pass,” De Luca said.Green Pass and PrivacyEmployees have three options to acquire a Green Pass. They can get fully vaccinated, which is the encouraged option. Otherwise, they can present a negative antigen test that allows a Green Pass for 72 hours, or they can prove that they have recently fully recovered from COVID-19. The Green Pass itself does not specify which category an employee falls under, and because of the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation, companies can’t ask. “The company cannot ask, ‘Are you vaccinated,’ or ‘Is your Green Pass active because you took the test this morning, or the PCR [polymerase chain reaction] test three days ago,’ ” Bongiorno said. The employer is free to define who is responsible to verify if employees have the Green Pass. “But the people who are in charge must be formally in charge, that must be part of a policy, [and] the policy must be communicated to the employees,” De Luca said. Even then, the people responsible for checking Green Passes can only see if the person has one, and not under what circumstances. The Green Pass app just shows “the employee can get into the company or not, no other information in the Green Pass may be subject to examination,” he said.No Green Pass, No PayThere are consequences for both employers and employees who don’t abide by the new mandatory requirements. If an employee declares that he or she does not have a Green Pass before entering the workplace, or is found to not have a Green Pass when asked, the employee will be turned away and won’t get paid until he or she gets a Green Pass.Though the vaccination is not mandatory, the use of the Green Pass and its consequences have already led to an increase in vaccinations, De Luca said. Bongiorno knows people who were persuaded by the Green Pass requirements at restaurants …

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