Ebola Strikes New York

Photo courtesy of the CDC.

Photo courtesy of the CDC.

It’s official. Ebola has scared the hell out of everyone. With Friday’s news story of a doctor in New York City being diagnosed and today’s “testing” of a 5-year-old boy for Ebola as well in the Big Apple, hysteria is sure to hit new heights.

However, as public relations professionals, our job is to offer wise council in times of crisis. We must anticipate how this latest news impacts our partners and determine how best to help them inform and better educate their audiences. A myriad of businesses can find themselves in the center of a media storm as Friday’s NYC media coverage demonstrated.

So the best advice for businesses is to start with facts.

For those businesses being asked about Ebola risks and protocols – and the public’s perception of your business’ Ebola risk – there are five steps to take quickly:

  1. Share the latest information from a recognized authority source (e.g., the CDC, the World Health Organization, your local or state department of health, etc.). Unless you are a medical professional well versed in infectious diseases, regardless of your business, you have no business advising on health issues. Leave that to the professionals and simply point people in the right direction.
  2. Examine your realistic exposure. NPR recently reported most American’s have a 1 in 13.3 million shot at contracting Ebola. In fact, NPR suggests studies show you’re more likely to die from a lightning strike or a bee sting than you are of catching Ebola. While many businesses are not likely to be at risk, the Manhattan case from Friday demonstrated how Uber, a Brooklyn bowling alley and NYC Metropolitan Transportation Authority needed to address Ebola concerns on a moment’s notice. Therefore it’s helpful to have thought through your messaging and delivery method in advance.
  3. Reassure your audiences you are following coverage and authoritative information of U.S. Ebola cases so as not to be surprised by developments that could impact your business operations or vendor relationships.
  4. Consult with your public relations professional to ensure any crisis communications plan your organization has in place is updated and that your team is prepared to respond quickly.
  5. Update your audiences as appropriate.

A sixth but less urgent step is to revisit your crisis communications plans at the conclusion of this latest pubic health scare to fine tune your policies and procedures so you are better prepared next time. And trust me, there will be a next time.

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Lloyd’s announces new multi-year binding authority agreements

AAMGA noted as being integral to this new, streamlined process

Lloyd’s, the world’s specialist insurance market, today issued a market bulletin announcing it is changing its requirements to allow multi-year binding authority agreements of up to 36 months. The bulleting lays out the new process and requirements, while also recognizing the American Association of Managing General Agents (AAMGA) for its years of advocacy on this important issue for Lloyd’s coverholders. The new agreements will take effect in 2016.

“We’ve been advocating for this change for several years to provide peace of mind and security – and frankly good business practices – for all Lloyd’s coverholders,” noted Roger Ware, president of AAMGA. “We met with Lloyd’s Chairman John Nelson as recently as May of this year at our Annual Meeting in Maryland to again press the issue, and we’re pleased to learn of Lloyd’s actions today.”

Currently, Lloyd’s coverholders can only enter into binding authority agreements of up to 18 months, while in most cases these agreements are renewed annually. Under the new multi-year binding authority agreements, Lloyd’s coverholders will be able to establish these agreements for up to 36 months. A streamlined annual confirmation component is included, in which Lloyd’s will send a simple form to its coverholders each November or December requesting appropriate confirmation of binding authority.

Grant Kimball, president of Canadian-based Angus-Miller, an associate member of AAMGA, applauded the change to Lloyd’s binding authority agreements.

“Lloyd’s listened to our industry representatives, reviewed the market landscape and made an appropriate and practical decision,” noted Kimball. “These multi-year agreements will take some of the guess work out of renewing business as well as make it easier to work effectively and efficiently with Lloyd’s.”