COVID-19 Crisis Communications Award: The Lysol Case Study

By Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC 

We raise a glass and present our first ever COVID-19 Crisis Communications Award to the team at Lysol. After the president asked doctors at a news conference if products like Lysol could be consumed orally or as an injection, the Lysol team was fast to respond with this statement:

“Due to recent speculation and social media activity, RB (the makers of Lysol and Dettol) has been asked whether internal administration of disinfectants may be appropriate for investigation or use as a treatment for coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2).

As a global leader in health and hygiene products, we must be clear that under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body (through injection, ingestion, or any other route). As with all products, our disinfectant and hygiene products should only be used as intended and in line with usage guidelines. Please read the label and safety information.

We have a responsibility in providing consumers with access to accurate, up-to-date information as advised by leading public health experts. For this and other myth-busting facts, please visit Covid-19facts.com.”

What is your takeaway on this? Three things…

Takeaway #1

In the 5-Steps to Effective Crisis Communications, you are encouraged to conduct frequent Vulnerability Assessments. Based on the kinds of things the president may say on any given day at his coronavirus briefings, you need to add “Rumors & Speculation” to your vulnerability list as your first take-away.

Takeaway #2

You also need to prepare a pre-written news release for Rumors & Speculation.  Add this to your library of pre-written news releases.

Takeaway #3

You now need to designate a member of your team to watch the daily White House briefings because there is no telling when your brand or company might get mentioned in a positive or negative way.

As we discussed last week, you cannot focus all of your crisis efforts on just COVID-19. You must think COVID + X. For Lysol, it was COVID + Presidential Speculation.

What made the task of responding even harder is that in our politically divided country, people are either all Trump or never Trump. Lysol, had to walk on eggshells to avoid damage to their revenue, reputation, and brand by being forced to issue a crisis statement that attempted not to anger Trump supporters. (I’m having to walk on eggshells myself, just to write a blog about this.)

Lysol wins their award for dancing around the land mines while also being fast to respond.

Wouldn’t you love to be a fly on the wall at Lysol when this went down?

Be well and be prepared. We live in strange times.

Crisis communications and media training expert Gerard Braud, CSP, Fellow IEC is based in New Orleans. Organizations on five continents have relied on him to write their crisis communications plans and to train their spokespeople. He is the author of “Don’t Talk to the Media Until…”

More crisis communications articles:

Covid-19 Crisis Communications Webinar Recording

The Biggest Lie in Crisis Communications

4 Steps Every Company Needs to Take in Order to Avoid the Default Spokesperson

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