The power of Communications in a crisis: Corona-Updates from CCNE members across Europe

This show has been produced by our member Fuzion Communications (Ireland).

Summary: What’s in the podcast?
COVID-19 is a crisis that effects many countries in the world – and right now, especially Europe. In the light of this extraordinary situation it is even more important to have a network of experienced communicators that support companies. Our Irish partner Greg Canty from Fuzion Communications spoke to all of our CCNE-members for his podcast Win Happy. This is how the situation presents itself in our different member countries:

Italy – Eva Ploner for daviso PR agency
Italy is one of the European countries that has been affected very severely by the coronavirus. The country had been on total lockdown for three weeks already. Eva tells us that governmental communications has scared people. Thus, thousands of people have fled from the highly affected north to their home towns in the south of the country. As an effect it will be the southern regions that will probably suffer further in the next weeks. This would be devastating for the part of Italy with the lowest density of hospitals in the whole country. The media isn’t preventing this development as objective reporting is scarce and does not reassure people.

Spain – María Luisa Moreo for Senor Lobo y Friends
In Spain, both population and politics had to make quite an effort to understand how serious the corona crisis really is. Especially nursing homes are an epicenter for COVID-19 outbreaks. Governmental actions are not always comprehensible, as main politicians don’t take quarantine recommendations seriously and there is not enough testing for the virus. However, María points out that there is a great appreciation for the health workers’ efforts.

Great Britain – Tim Toulmin for Alder Communication
In the UK the government has levelled up public restrictions, although avoiding the phrase lockdown. Public sentiment is that there is a lot worse to come for the country. Tim explains to us that the current situation is a combination of a sense of an impending serious situation with a strong sentiment of cooperation developing throughout the country. The support of government actions among the population is very strong. Earlier on, this approval was overshadowed by a leaked plan of the chief scientific office. It contained plans to strive for herd immunity rather than restricting people’s freedom of movement.

Germany – Matthias Glötzner and Kathrin Hansen for Engel & Zimmermann AG
Matthias and Kathrin see the German federal system as the biggest challenge for Germany’s ability to manage the corona crisis.  Nevertheless, the German government has finally made an agreement among the federal states. Most of the German population agrees with the political measures but are at the same time afraid the situation could change towards conditions in Italy or Spain. In comparison to these countries, Germany has more intensive care beds and until today a lower mortality rate. Besides healthcare interventions there are as well considerations about the recuperation of the national economy.

Denmark – Christian Lemvigh for Corporate Matters
The outbreak of COVID-19 in Denmark was mostly caused by ski tourists returning from their vacations in Italy. Apart from healthcare, the public discussion in Denmark is circling around unemployment rates and the financial bill that the country will pick up during this crisis. According to Christian, the Danish government has managed the crisis rather well. Political authorities have reacted very quickly with financial measures. Unfortunately, some companies still had to lay of some of their employees.

Ireland – Deirdre Waldon and Greg Canty, Fuzion Communications
Although Deirdre and Greg would normally describe Ireland as a “rebel” country, the population has been very compliant to the rules set up by the government. Apart from that, public pressure is making people stay at home. The seriousness of the situation was made very clear from the public authorities from the beginning – therefore people followed the recommendations very quickly. An aggravating factor in Ireland right now is the non-existent official government. Due to the fact that elections had only been carried out a month ago, the decision making process was complicated.

The Netherlands – Huib Bannier for Van Hulzen Communicatie
Huib points out that his agency wants to develop itself digitally during the crisis. In the Netherlands the first signs of a flattening of the curve are already in view. The Dutch population is optimistic the country will cope with the crisis. This attitude might also have something to do with the current national hero Jaap van Dissel: The director of the country’s health care institute is well trusted and has a high impact on the population complying with the countrywide restrictions.

Austria – Norman Schirmer for Rosam.Grünberger Change Communications
In this time of crisis, he Austrian population obeys the national rules. In general, Norman evaluates that the government performs well at their crisis management: Press conferences are held almost daily, there was an extraordinary address of the federal president and the government has developed TV spots and marketing measures.

Belgium – Stijn Pieters for PM Risk Crisis and Change
Similar to the Netherlands, a flattening of the curve is already in view in Belgium. Stijn thinks this is also due to the swift reactions of public authorities. Although still in the act of forming a new government, measures were introduced quickly. Belgium was able to benefit from the experience of the terrorist attacks in 2016 and apply many crisis management processes from that period. In general, the public responds well to the governmental communication and complies with rules.