On Thursday March 12 the mayor of Neratovice Roman Kroužecký assembled the city’s emergency council. Events were developing quickly – there were first two cases of COVID-19. However, that information was not 100% confirmed yet. This was the beginning of a communication crisis that can serve as a good example for others.
What happened after the meeting?
There was unofficial information about two cases of coronavirus here and public started to discuss it. We first had to check if that was true. Then I confirmed the information online, but we came under a lot of criticism from citizens for our poor communication and they wanted to know more, even who the infected ones were.
What was the problem?
Instead of reacting in discussion forums on the city’s website I published the piece of news on my facebook page . Then I elaborated this factual statement and my position on the matter in my next post. I asked people not to discuss who exactly got infected and that we announced it late. I admitted that even we, the city administration, are facing a situation that none of us has experiences with. People responded significantly better to this statement. That was a proof to me that it is definitely better to actively communicate. Once you have a confirmed piece of information, it is important to share it in an official way as soon as possible.
Which communication channel proved to be the best for you in the current situation?
In recent days, when people are mainly online, we keep them informed on the city’s website www.neratovice.cz and then immediately reshare the information on the city’s Facebook page where we have over 3,400 followers. I also communicate via Facebook page Mayor Roman Kroužecký . It pays off to be active and to answer relevant questions. We are constantly alert, and besides citizens we communicate with all the emergency services. We consult all our decisions and try to find the best solutions. We learned hard that proper communication is crucial now.