The Intelligent Workplace

The Intelligent Workplace

Episode 30

Insights from a Crisis Communicator

​Philippe Borremans
Crisis & Risk Communication Consultant

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A few weeks ago I made a new connection with my guest for this episode. His name is Philippe Borremans and he is an expert in public relations and crisis communications. What started out as a chance meeting, turned out to be quite timely with recent global events.
Philippe has worked for IBM and Porter Novelli, and co-founded the Reputation & Co consulting network in Europe and North Africa. He is also a regular guest lecturer at Universities in Europe.
Philippe believes that the first course of action in any crisis plan should be to consider your employees. With the world in the midst of a global pandemic, this is great advice for C-Suite decision makers.

Philippe offers up many real world examples and fascinating insights in this episode, enjoy the conversation.

Note: if you would like to take advantage of Philippe’s discount entry to participate in the Virtual PR Summit, click here and enter the code 68ZIAYXV


Chris:                   So to dive into the issues around times of crisis and how to it handle it as a business, welcome to the Intelligent Workplace Podcast, Philippe Borremans.

Philippe:              Hi Chris. Thanks for having me on the show.

Chris:                   It is absolutely magnificent to have you on today all the way live from Morocco.

Philippe:              Yeah. From Tangiers.

Chris:                   Nice work, nice work. Mate, the world’s currently in the grips of a significant event with this coronavirus, which is a cause for a lot of concern for people and it’s changing people’s work habits, it’s affecting world finance markets and generally causing a bit of chaos. It’s this type of situation where all of your training is put into practice, isn’t it?

Philippe:              Yeah. My background is in public relations and then pretty quickly I specialized in crisis comms, but three years ago I had the opportunity to start working as a consultant for World Health Organization, WHO on a couple of missions and then from there on other missions followed.

Philippe:              And for the last, I think 16 months I’ve been working in West Africa on exactly that kind of thing, pandemic or epidemic preparedness. And then suddenly we had COVID-19 starting, so I’m in the middle of the thing, yeah

Chris:                   Yes. Situations of this maybe to you are quite rare, but companies are faced with other events that require PR or crisis comms quite often. Do you want to give us a few examples of situations you found yourself in with your clients in the past?

Philippe:              I spent for instance, 10 years at IBM as public relations manager in-house function, so as an employee and a company like that could have a huge amount of different things that could go wrong. What we like to do is make differences between issues and crisises. Issues, if you know that you have issues, that could be employee comms, it could be strikes, could be anything, you have logistics. Those things you can still change.

Philippe:              Once an issue becomes a crisis, then of course you’re in a different kind of communications phase and different things apply there. During my career, I had a couple of things pretty early on, in fact, airplane crash-

Chris:                   Oh wow.

Philippe:              Yeah, no victims luckily, but still airplane crash, and then discovered things ranging from terrorism to do more let’s say normal crisises, financial crisises, logistics, things going wrong, but epidemics and now COVID-19 has been declared official as a pandemic is of course something that is not always directly on the radar.

Philippe:              If you do a risk analysis for a company in the private sector, whatever kind of sector, I don’t think there’s any risk map out there that says, “Oh, there is a potential issue and potential crisis that we need to work on, which is something like an epidemic.” Although, this is not the first one.

Philippe:              We had several ones before where companies had to as well initiate crisis plans or preparedness plans.

Chris:                   It really feels like around the world right now that we are chasing our tails in terms of getting prepared to deal with this thing. Things are updating every day, it’s just like all hands on the wheel, we’ve got to handle this thing.

Philippe:              Yeah, but the thing is specifically in epidemics and now pandemic, we’re talking about living organisms so they don’t really follow exactly logic, and the thing is it does take time to know, discover from a medical point of view what this really means. On the other hand, there are some basic approaches that we always can do.

Philippe:              And specifically around this health issues, I think what we often forget is that we need to invest a lot of time, resources, money and a lot of communication efforts in the preparedness aspect because that’s where you gain time. That’s where you prepare people and also mentally and emotionally for when something happens.

Philippe:              Because in this case, for instance, specifically for COVID-19, we’re talking about basic health prevention. We’re not talking about doing very specific things which require, I don’t know what as a setup. We’re talking about washing hands regularly, keeping a distance if someone shows symptoms, so it’s not a drastic change in things. At the same time, of course, it has an impact on a company.

Chris:                   You’re seeing lots of communications going out there, even something simple I saw yesterday about washing your hands was pick your favorite song and sing it for a minute in your head while you wash your hands, then you know you’ve done it enough. Do you have a favorite song that maybe you wash your hands to?

Philippe:              No, not really.

Chris:                   I’ve got a bit of Stayin Alive by the BGs, but I do digress. Look, when these things happen, there’s a lot of outward facing communications and strategies that we need to deal with, but I know you’re actually pretty passionate about the employee experience in all of this and what we do need to communicate with customers in those situations. How important is it to remember about our employees?

Philippe:              The very first thing in any kind of crisis communications plan, when I work for clients, when I look at crisis plans, where I make them for clients, the very first thing, and I do that in trainings as well, it’s my very first slide it is your first communication is an internal communication.

Philippe:              That is your very first communication activity that you do in the context of a crisis. It’s employees first because… any kind of crisis. In this one as well as in any kind of thing that you can imagine that could happen to an organization, the very first communication happens to employees because they need to be informed.

Philippe:              No way that they should find out what’s happening through reading the newspaper or coming home after work and putting on the tele and see what happens to the organization they work for. And unfortunately that happens still, but no, it’s crucial. For me at least in the communications plan, the crisis comms plans I’m doing and advising clients is employ or internal comms first and then we work on the other aspects.

Chris:                   Do you have some go-to strategies or methods for making sure that everyone can be reached and ensure the message is consistent and clear?

Philippe:              Again, we’re going back to the preparation phase where it’s exactly the same approach, at least that’s the one I’m using. As for external communications, know your stakeholders-

Chris:                   Yes.

Philippe:              … do a risk analysis, create your key messages, do message mapping exercises. And it’s not something that you do once, it’s like crisis preparedness or emergency preparedness is not something that you do in a specific given time, it needs to become part of a corporate culture.

Philippe:              And it’s very difficult for organizations to understand that because we work in quarters and we work with our few budgets and what have you, but just like security issues at companies, it is something that needs to become part of the everyday company culture.

Chris:                   You mentioned knowing your stakeholders, is that the key thing in terms of walking the tightrope between informing your employees and not alarming them or making it worse?

Philippe:              At least to me, and I’ve been in the public relations communications business for all my life. I studied it and I did nothing else. Your stakeholder mapping and analysis, and your audience analysis, if you don’t have that, all the rest of that you could do is not worth it. It starts with your audiences, it starts with your stakeholders, which is not the same, audience and stakeholder.

Philippe:              But those two activities, analyzing them, getting to know them, understand which key messages would work and not work in a certain given aspect, cultural differences, all these things, that’s where it starts. And all the rest of them is tactics, is key messages, is testing it, sending it out, getting feedback, managing those things, but it starts with the audiences and the stakeholders.

Chris:                   You’re a man of the world, you’re a remote worker working in a couple of different countries. I’m tipping that you can be hard to contact at times. If you’re not online, how would we be contacting you as a staff member so that you don’t find out about this on the television, or the radio, or whatever?

Philippe:              I’ve worked in pretty remote areas in Africa and it’s very strange because… I’ve trained for instance, risk communicators or for the ministries of health in the 15 countries of the West African Union and there as well when I do workshops, they often go like, “Okay, so social media, what should we do with social media?”

Philippe:              And I’m like, “Sure, we’ll cover that in a couple of moments, but let’s first look at your audiences. Let’s look at the people from village X, Y, Z. What do they have? Do they have an internet connection?” “No.” And if they have one, it works pretty well until the rainy season because when it starts raining like hell, that connection is not working anymore.

Philippe:              So what do they have? They have local radio, they have mobile phones, so if you have a budget of $100, where do you invest it in them? In social media? No, you invest it in podcasting or local audio and you invest it in SMS. That’s it.

Chris:                   Yeah. Good one. And what about tone of voice? How does that come into all of this?

Philippe:              It’s a difficult one because the guidelines… Emergency risk communications or risk communication, again, there are nuances in both, but what I do in this specific field, we have very sound theories based on sociology, anthropology, psychology, so we do tend to work on key messaging and on the tone of voice adapted to local customs.

Philippe:              That is of course a bit difficult or different in a corporate world because a corporation, and as I said, I’ve worked 10 years for IBM and once an IBM always an IBMer. It’s an organization with a very strong corporate culture, it’s a weld on itself. So the company itself already has a tone of voice and then you need to adapt that to different people working for the company on a global scale with different cultures, different languages.

Philippe:              So that doesn’t always translate very well, but the basic approach is what I would call, and I’m not using the official WHO descriptions here. Just my straight forward language is, don’t take your employees for stupid people. They know what’s going on first of all. Secondly, they know that they have responsibility themselves as well to protect themselves, to do all these things that is required to keep your health in this situation, so be very level with them.

Philippe:              Tell them what you don’t know. And I know that is the most difficult thing in the private sector and sometimes in the public sector as well is getting over that idea that we can only communicate when we know all the facts. In the context of COVID-19 and any kind of health related urgency or emergency, you communicate even if you don’t have the full facts.

Philippe:              And that is sometimes difficult to translate in the private sector, but it is crucial. And also giving your people tools, information that they can use to help themselves. That is very powerful. That is in fact what we always try to do in emergency risk or in risk communication is give those tools or those approaches that kind of information so that people don’t feel helpless, but that they know that they themselves can take their health in their hands and change things.

Chris:                   So that’s interesting that you say even if you don’t have all the information, some information is better than no information. Does that sort of help put people at ease?

Philippe:              Yes, it does, but again, you have to put into context, but yes, it does. Telling people that the situation that we are now facing, we’re facing a worldwide pandemic, by definition of pandemic is worldwide, but a pandemic now of a disease that we don’t really 100% know, we see some similarities, but it’s not the usual influenza fever and people are dying.

Philippe:              So level with people and say, “Look, this is what we know, this is what we don’t know. But based on what we know, the best approach is. And this is what you can do, step one, two, three.” That’s very simple put, but that’s in fact the approach for good risk communication.

Chris:                   So where does technology come into all of this for you?

Philippe:              Again, totally comes out of the analysis that I would do. If social media is a thing, for instance, now I’m here in Tangiers in Morocco, Morocco is one of the African countries with the highest penetration of Facebook, so yeah, probably makes sense to use that kind of a technology and communication channel.

Philippe:              But at the same time, if I go into the South of Americas into where the desert starts, probably I will be using local radio, and I will be using mobile phones, and SMS communication. Again, it really depends, it’s not a one single thing. Of course, I had the luxury of working for big organizations who had social intranet.

Philippe:              My very first social intranet that I deployed within the organization was in 2004, so you can imagine that that is a luxury where you have people with mobile phones always connected, email, chat, company-wide chat. You can put an alarm system in there, today we have bots who can give you basic information, even guide you in your decisions.

Philippe:              So technology becomes more and more important, the only thing is, let’s not forget that we also have people who are not connected all the time and more and more people, and that’s an interesting development, I think, more and more people who choose not to be connected all the time.

Chris:                   Yes, yes. Going off the grid, I suppose.

Philippe:              I’ve missed a couple of phone calls because yesterday and the day before I was traveling, and the days before that I was simply working at my place in Portugal. We just moved, so there’s stuff to do and I just switch off.

Chris:                   Fair enough.

Philippe:              And if it’s urgent, you call me.

Chris:                   Look, in these situations and certainly now with how the coronavirus outbreak is progressing, you often have people that’ll be working from home for extended periods. I know certainly in our company we’ve got some people in certain regions who are already self isolating because of the virus around them. Can that be extremely isolating for them if they’re not used to it?

Philippe:              Yeah. If people are not used to do that, then again, I think it’s to the employer to help them with that. It is explaining that you have regular check in moments, that you have regular video conferences. The visual aspect is important, that people don’t feel isolated at home or, “I’m just stuck here and yes, I do my work, but I don’t see my colleagues.” So those are important things.

Chris:                   So as a manager, I need to be proactive I guess because I can’t expect them to check in with me. And maybe my role as a manager goes from operational things and worrying about the business to worrying more about my staff and their well being.

Philippe:              No, I think every company that has the potential to have people working from home already today, now even if they’re not in the situation should already proactively communicate that if and when it is needed, when this pandemic is hitting their business, the system that people will put in place, what that will be.

Philippe:              I think already now it’s better to inform people on what could happen than informing them on the moment that you need to put these things in place. Already informed them that, “Look, this is what we know. We were operating fine today, but in case that our community, our business community is hit by the coronavirus, by this pandemic, one of the solutions is working from home. If we get there, this is how we would do it.

Philippe:              These are the checking moments that we will organize. This is how you keep in touch with your team. This is the regular intervals that you will have a face to face Skype call, what have you with your manager.” That should already be clear today. It’s not something that you tell people that they need to out of the office, stay at home a couple of days after, you need to prepare people already today to do that.

Chris:                   No. Good one. Good one. Look, on the extreme end of this, of the scale too, I guess we could be faced with increased anxiety levels or even verging on mental health issues if they are for extended period of time.

Philippe:              Yeah. The mental health issue, it’s the isolation that works and specifically with people who don’t have the experience of working remote and also, let’s not forget we have a lot of companies who have still not embraced remote working because of company policy, because of company culture, because they think that if they don’t see their employees, they’re not working, which is a totally stupid given if you ask me.

Philippe:              But yeah, and that is something that needs to be checked definitely because let’s not forget if you are used to work with the team day in, day out, face to face, you’ve got a good working environment, your colleagues are almost becoming friends, and the team spirit, and all these things, then suddenly you have to work remote, isolated for an extended period of time. That is definitely something that works on the mental health of people.

Philippe:              And also the stress factor, let’s not forget that. It’s an unusual situation then for those people, so that needs to be taken into account.

Chris:                   How important is it to try your best as a company to maintain a feeling of business as usual, even though clearly you are not operating in a business as usual environment?

Philippe:              My take on that is that it’s dangerous to say that it’s business as usual.

Chris:                   Okay.

Philippe:              It’s as dangerous… Some people I hear that often around me and then I’m just spotted that I’m getting angry, but I’m too old for that. When I hear people say, “Oh yeah, it’s like influenza.” This is not like influenza, this is not a fever, not a simple fever. So we don’t know for the moment. And so no, I don’t think it’s a good idea to say, “It’s business as usual. We’ll win,” or, “it’ll be fine. It’ll go away.”

Philippe:              I heard someone say today to me here when I arrived in Morocco, “Yeah, but the temperature, the temperatures are getting higher so after Ramadan and after April we’ll be at 28, 29 degrees every single day and thing will die out.” No. We don’t know that.

Chris:                   Nice.

Philippe:              No, I really think that an organization should sit down with employees and say, “Look, this isn’t the situation today. This is what we do today, we are putting sanitizing hand rub dispensers a bit everywhere. We’re displaying posters, we’re telling people how to behave. We tell people,” but also tell them that if it gets worse and chances are it will get worse, if it gets worse, then this is what we’ll do. This is our next approach. This is plan A, this is plan B.

Philippe:              And if it gets even more worse and it affects our local business community and we can’t do otherwise, then of course we’ll go to remote working and this is how we’ll implement it. Tell people today what you’re planning because if they understand that you are planning for worst case scenario, that is something that will tell them, “Hey my employer know what they’re doing. “They’re taking this seriously, I feel better.”

Chris:                   If we are all working remote and not seeing each other, it could be pretty easy just to take the approach of everything being a little bit too hard. But there are little things such as moving face-to-face meetings to online ones with video chats instead of casting them. I think that’s really important to continue to do that so that we don’t lose touch.

Philippe:              No, it is very important. And then what you just said is exactly what is in the latest update from WHO for companies on how to organize these things. Think if you have a meeting on the agenda you’re doing or an event, a big event on the agenda, think about first of all, in which area are you? What is the advice of local government?

Philippe:              Secondly, do you really need to bring all these people together? Is there a virtual option? Is there a web conference probability? Can you organize a virtual summit instead of a real summit? All these things, and that is something that everyone in an organization today should ask themselves. Do we have to fly in people? Do we have to get all these people in the same room?

Philippe:              I’m just thinking about let’s say, oh, we have a weekly meeting with 15 people. Do all those 15 people need to be in the same room. Do we really need those 15 people in the room? Can we do that virtually or can we reduce the number of people in the same room? If you’re in a risk area of course.

Chris:                   Yeah. Look, something as simple as turning your camera on from a remote meeting is so powerful I think in sort of just checking in with your coworkers.

Philippe:              No, definitely. I can understand people who have not the habit of working like that, I used to work like that. I’ve been working remotely since 2003, ‘4, so I’m used to it, but some people who today it could be their first virtual meeting, could be their first webinar that they’re following or whatever, yeah, help them. And the video aspect, as you say, is important and it’s just seeing people, seeing that things are moving along, even if we’re not physically together, then that’s a good approach.

Chris:                   So as a coworker, as opposed to a manager, what should I be doing? Am I using the Microsoft teams video called to them, or sending a message via chat, or maybe posting messages on Yammer and those sorts of things just to stay in touch virtually?

Philippe:              Yeah, I think it would be good if there’s a social intranet like Yammer and things like that. Of course, that will be the central place where if I would be an internet manager now I would have on the homepage a special section on, what are we doing in the context of COVID-19 daily updates?

Chris:                   Yes.

Philippe:              If you really want to follow it step by step, here’s a little bot. It’ll send you proactively a bit of updates when we make decisions on that. Make sure you can access on your mobile phone if that works. So that is one aspect. And then the other things is of course technology that we have. If a meeting can be held virtually, by default, go virtual, why not?

Philippe:              If you have certain teams that can work remotely, for instance, I’m thinking about sales team. Sales teams used to be on the road all day and then had to come into the office to do their administration and say hi to the manager and I’ve done 15 visits and what have you. If that is still the case today, think about, do these people really need to come back to the office. Do they really need to sit into… We’ve got an email.

Chris:                   I was also thinking about you’ve got remote workers who may not have a computer, maybe they’re a truck driver or someone walking out in a wood yard or something like that. These days, most of them seem to have a mobile phone. So maybe the idea of the whole mobile intranet or mobile messaging is really a key thing in keeping everybody informed here.

Philippe:              Yeah. I used to have my own podcast and I’ve always been a big fan of Voice.

Chris:                   Yes.

Philippe:              I used to work for a company who had their own international transport organization. We had hundreds of truck drivers and my CEO at the time said, “But these guys, they’re in their truck all day. They don’t read the email updates, is it?” “No, of course not. We’ll do a podcast for them. They all got a mobile phone. They all have a connection.”

Chris:                   Yeah, absolutely.

Philippe:              And those guys used to listen to the corporate regular updates, podcasts on their radio in their truck.

Chris:                   And even a simple sort of thing, if there isn’t an immediate message that has to get out, a pop up messaging type application via the mobile intranet or whatever is also going to get that done as well, so you know that everybody’s going to be communicated to, to the best of your abilities.

Philippe:              Yeah. And of course, depending on where you are, I see Africa, for instance, where I’ve done these missions before, WhatsApp groups are a big thing. I’m not a big fan of it, but it does work. What else do you have? Simple SMS works for alerting services.

Chris:                   Yep.

Philippe:              There are many technologies that can do this. And the instant updates are important as long of course that they are not too many of them because-

Chris:                   They lose [crosstalk 00:28:43], do they?

Philippe:              Of course, of course. So it’s a mix, I think. The best thing always is to mix different channels, but I do think in a modern organization today that the intranet should be the go to place for regular updates. If it has a mobile version, perfect, and then audio. I’m a big fan of audio as well.

Chris:                   Oh yeah. The thing I love about technology these days is there’s so much that we can do. I love the feeling it can give people that they are in the room with you even though they aren’t in the room with you, if you know what I mean.

Philippe:              Yeah, definitely. Yeah.

Chris:                   And I think in this situation that’s really important.

Philippe:              No, it is and it will increase as well because I think… I’m organizing my virtual public relations summit in a couple of months and now suddenly I get calls from conference organizer. “So Philip, we’ve read about your virtual aspect and we are not going ahead with conference because of the coronavirus.” How do you do that?

Philippe:              But yeah, you can really have interesting interactive multimedia meetings online today as long as you use the good platforms and it does work. You brief people, you give them an agenda, all these things are still important, but it does work if and when it’s needed to do that remotely.

Chris:                   Let’s fast forward to whenever this pandemic clears up when we talk about going back to work or post-crisis, I suppose. What kind of strategies do you think we should look to employ to ensure that that return to work for our employees is as smooth as possible?

Philippe:              I think the after crisis or emergency phase is often forgotten again, and it’s such an important phase. That is where you will learn from what you’ve done, from your mistakes, from your good things, from how things have worked, didn’t work, which procedures. Was your employee communication effective? Did people take on with virtual work? Is there maybe an opportunity to make it part of normal business procedures?

Philippe:              Maybe not full time, but maybe that employee suddenly can choose to work from home one or two days a week, there are so many. And it’s in that phase after an urgency or an emergency and a crisis that you analyze what you’ve done and see, what can we improve? What have we done well? How would we do it next time? And I think it’s important that organizations understand that there will be a next time unfortunately.

Chris:                   Yes.

Philippe:              So it’s that learning curve, which is incredible. If you do that very well, feedback from employees. That is a moment where you sit down with employees and say, “Look, we went through this together. What worked? What works for you? What were your fears?” That is the moment where you get all that input.

Philippe:              We’ve learned so much from the ’14, ’15 Ebola outbreak. And when I say we, it’s people in risk communication and others that it’s incredible. Your whole approach to risk communication is changing, is evolving in a positive way. We understand much better now that we need to do better stakeholder.

Philippe:              Again, stakeholder analysis that we need to invest in community relations. And again that should be exactly the same thing for an organization. It is in the after phase that you will learn what worked, what didn’t work and what you can do to prepare for the next time.

Chris:                   Listening to an expert such as yourself, these listeners of this podcast will be wanting to pick your brain for tips and tricks on how to make this more successful, but the honest thing is that there is no one size fits all approach to doing this, is there?

Philippe:              No, there’s no standard-

Chris:                   No crisis-

Philippe:              … crisis planning [inaudible] from the wall and say, “Oh, page five says that we need to do this now.” No, it doesn’t work like that. No.

Chris:                   Unfortunately. I think it’s important to not rush these things as well. I feel like the fiscal reality of the situation sometimes might force management to want to hurry up this part of the process and get back to that business as usual, but that’s not necessarily going to be the case.

Philippe:              No. And the value of taking time to do that post emergency or crisis phase is incredible. The learning aspects and also don’t forget, if you’re going through a crisis like this and you’re affected as an organization, your employees went through a lot of things, your management went through a lot of things, your middle management as well. It will have an aftermath for a certain amount of time.

Philippe:              It’s good to bring people together and then see what went well and what didn’t went well. It’s really a time well invested. Again, for the next time because there will be a next time, maybe not a pandemic, but something else and you can learn from those procedures and adapt the plans if you have them, and it’s a perfect time as well to update those crisis plans.

Chris:                   And back on the outward facing side of the equation, so talking to our customers once we’re back into our business as usual type of arrangement, what are the key things we need to remember there?

Philippe:              I think it’s a moment to show that you’ve… if you’ve managed it well, it’s still also the moment to say, Look, “we…” If you’ve done it well, you’ve worked with your partners, your suppliers, your clients together as a team that keeps each other informed, and I think it’s also a moment to celebrate that togetherness because we know from previous cases and from crisis situations that it does bring people together and that’s a very strong feeling.

Philippe:              Because imagine your supplier, how he would feel or she would feel where if you cut them off because things are going wrong based on something that they don’t have any control over. Imagine your clients doing the same thing with you. So it is an important moment when it’s over to sit down and talk about this and look at operating procedures, looking at supply chain.

Philippe:              Exactly, because that is one of the biggest issues for the moment, from an economic point of view around this COVID-19 is the huge impact it has on different supply chains, let alone on stock market. So it’s that moment where you sit down and say, “Look, we’ve done this. It worked, it didn’t work. These are the reasons. Let’s put this on paper, let’s put procedures down. Let’s look at our plans.”

Philippe:              But at the ultimate moment, it’s agreeing on keeping each other informed and getting through this phase as a team as well without kicking on the suppliers and then the client and, “Yeah, but you can’t deliver.” It’s not easy for anyone, but on that external aspect, the things that went well, I would really celebrate them with partners, with suppliers and with clients.

Chris:                   And so I guess for now, this is our new reality. We embrace working virtually, we embrace working remotely. We utilize the technology that’s in our fingertips to communicate, stay in touch, and checking on each other, and make the best of what is not a great situation I suppose.

Philippe:              Yeah. I think I mentioned it before something like crisis communication or risk communication is something that really needs to become part of an organization’s culture. Things will go wrong. And it doesn’t always have to be as dramatic as this pandemic, but things will go wrong. So if we inform, and educate, and train people on a regular basis that things can go wrong, but that there’s always something that you, yourself, each unique employee can do about it, then already that’s a huge step.

Philippe:              And in this case as well, if we have now a good communication towards employees, let’s say that we have events going on or big meetings going on, simply telling people who are responsible to organize these meetings that they have to as from tomorrow, keep track of who was at that meeting, name, contact details. All people are only internal people. Not only internal people, also clients visiting, suppliers coming in, visitors of the company.

Philippe:              Retain those names, contact details of all those participants. You have to retain those things as from today for the next couple of months because you never know that information could save lives in the context of contact tracing. And that’s a very simple thing. It’s not asking someone to learn something totally new, it’s simply putting down a piece of paper and say, “Look, as from now we all write down all names and contact details of every single visitor for every single meeting and we keep those things in a special file that maybe could save lives later on when we’re really in trouble and medical staff comes in to do contact tracing.”

Chris:                   Fair enough. Mate, you have just really opened up my eyes to some great pieces of advice today. You mentioned previously that you’re running a virtual PR summit, which seems is going to be the way of the world in the short term at least in terms of trying to run events. If people are interested in that, where and when and how can I find out more information?

Philippe:              The when, I tend to work as I go, so I don’t have a definite date. I’m looking at May. All the speakers have been confirmed, so I’ll have 30 speakers from across the globe.

Chris:                   All right.

Philippe:              I said to myself, “If I’m going to do this, I really want a speaker from every single continent.” That worked out. I want to have 50/50% men, women. That worked out as well. And it will be about public relations in all its aspects. So it will be internal comms, external comms, digital comms and crisis comms.

Philippe:              End of May probably, but the landing page, registrations can already be done, so it’s a virtual summit, meaning that you’ll be watching people giving their presentations sometimes all by themselves, sometimes me doing the, not the interview, but doing the panel session or panel moderation.

Philippe:              And I’m really happy with the kind of speakers I have. People are enormously enthusiast about this, so I was a bit amazed of the enthusiasm, which is always good. And people who are interested can register, so there’s two ways to register. There’s a freeway, meaning that you can register for free for the virtual summit. The only limitation is that you will have 48 hours to watch the six keynotes going online every day of the summit.

Philippe:              And there’s the all access pass where you have unlimited access to all the keynotes, and then a huge amount of bonus material, and the products and services, and that is the paid version. And people can already check now the speaker list and the website on

Chris:                   And we’ll of course leave links in the show notes for you so that you can click through and find out more about this fantastic event that a Phillip’s going to be putting on. So mate, I just want to say thank you very much-

Philippe:              I’ll do even better because I think if… there are a couple of really good sessions and people just have to check the kind of speakers I have on internal comms for instance. What I can do is, and then I’ll send that over to you and you can put in the show notes. I’ll put in various specific discount code for the all access pass for your listeners.

Chris:                   Fantastic. Thank you very much. That sounds great.

Chris:                   Mate, look, [inaudible] say thank you so much for joining me today live from Morocco. These time-zones can be a bit tricky, so I appreciate you staying up late tonight to talk with me. It has being some really, really valuable information you’ve shared with my listeners here today, so we thank you very much and all the best for the future.

Philippe:              You too, Chris. Thanks for inviting me. That was really fun to do.

Chris:                   My pleasure. Thanks.

Chris:                   Thanks for joining me on the Intelligent Workplace Podcast brought to you by LiveTiles. If you have any feedback or want to suggest a guest for a future show, email Thanks for listening. I’ll catch you next time.


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