Aflac’s comms senior VP: ‘Communicators need to be the calm in the chaos’

Here’s how Catherine Hernandez-Blades is steering her organization through the current crisis.

Ragan Insider Premium Content
Ragan Insider Content

Most seasoned communicators have managed a crisis at least once in their career and are prepared for a single-impact incident, such as a natural disaster, an act of terrorism, an oil spill or a corporate scandal.

Few—if any—communicators were prepared for a crisis on the scale of COVID-19, says Catherine Hernandez-Blades, senior vice president and chief ESG and communications officer with insurance giant Aflac.

Since the coronavirus crisis hit with full force in early March, Aflac’s communications department has produced more than 200 pieces of communications for internal and external stakeholders. “The most positive thing I’m seeing is how creative people are [in crisis response],” says Hernandez-Blades.

The team created a 30-page grid outlining all the crisis communications tactics the company might need to activate. The grid maps out all the stakeholders, from the board of directors, to sales leadership, to regulators and employees. “It’s been a fascinating exercise from a business continuity and integrated stakeholder communications standpoint to see this all laid out on a such a global scale,” Hernandez-Blades adds.

To read the full story, log in.
Become a Ragan Insider member to read this article and all other archived content.
Sign up today

Already a member? Log in here.
Learn more about Ragan Insider.