Managing a digital crisis

Bárbara Yuste, Head of Digital Communication at Proa Comunicación, details how to manage a digital crisis. Transparency and speed are two essential factors in a scenario of crisis in the digital environment, especially in moments like the ones we are living these days. Companies and institutions have to be prepared today more than ever to fight effectively against any situation that could endanger their reputation. To this end, it is essential that action protocols are drawn up to prevent hasty decisions that could further spread the focus of conflict. Speed is vital, but without haste and lack of judgment.

In Proa Comunicación we help organizations to manage all kind of crises that may be triggered in the digital field with plans adapted to their needs, but always based on analysis, transparent communication and constant monitoring.

Almeida and leadership

Investor and philanthropist Warren Buffett said that “only when the tide goes out do you know who was swimming naked”. Well, the tide has come out in one fell swoop, and how. We don’t remember a tide like that; at the time of writing we have 3,434 dead in Spain and what we have left. In a crisis that no one of my generation or of my old father’s remembers, everyone’s masks are melting away and what is there appears. We are like in Hans Christian Andersen’s story, The Emperor’s New Clothes, in which it turns out that the King was naked!

We’re very naked in terms of content. A new style of press conference has been inaugurated and now, in order to ask the President and the Ministers in the hearings on the occasion of the coronavirus crisis, we have to pass the selection of the Secretary of State for Communication, Miguel Ángel Oliver. Thus, previously selected questions are formulated and answered where there is no possibility of cross-examination. This is unthinkable in the United States, France and Italy. The questions are asked without censorship. Could it be that here we are naked in content and cannot take steps beyond the argument; leaders know how to face uncomfortable questions, uncomfortable situations and can improvise because the argument of coherence is standard.

And it seems that the argument of coherence is held by the Mayor of Madrid, José Luis Martínez-Almeida; he answers uncomfortable questions; he faces uncomfortable situations and makes uncomfortable but convenient decisions for the good of all of us who live in Madrid. And where what abounds around us is the nakedness of content, a leader with common sense and management skills emerges. Almeida decides with rigour and anticipation and all his public interventions have been clear, understandable and have had a great deal of echo on the social networks where those who until recently mocked him have ended up recognising his capacity to lead an unparalleled crisis. Almeida embodies management capacity over ideology; unity and non-confrontation to focus on solving the problem.

It is now when the tide is very low and you can see very well who is naked when an above-average intelligence comes out. Almeida’s attitude to an extreme situation has been to show his face from the outset by anticipating the measures taken by the government. Of the 549 million euros in surplus for 2019, the Mayor would like to allocate 420 million to adopt economic and social measures to alleviate the effects of the coronavirus; the Stability Act and the Government do not allow this surplus to be used and Madrid will only have 20 million of these 420 million.

What comes out of Almeida is a genuine concern for efficiency and for the citizens. We are going beyond the argument. Principles, values and preparation cannot be improvised. Almeida says that “Madrid united is unbeatable. Our values and the pride of our city will help us move forward”. I also believe this, Mr Mayor, and I also believe that this time Andersen’s story would have another ending and the child would say: That the King was dressed!


Lucía Casanueva González 
Managing partner at Proa Comunicación

Beyond indignation

Alfredo Verdoy. Jesuit priest. Professor of Church History in the Faculty of Theology at the Pontifical University of Comillas and Director of the Historical Archive of the Society of Jesus in Spain.

People who have been discharged from the Coronavirus testify that throughout their short and intense illness they went through the following stages: indignation and victimization; confrontation, acceptance of pain and disappointment; struggle without quarter, despite the feeling of exhaustion and even death, to defend their lives and, finally, slow and slow recovery of their vital signs.

Perhaps many of us, members of a society not generally accustomed to frustration and the struggle for life, find ourselves, in the midst of the quarantine we are living, in the stage of indignation and victimization. There is no point in remaining in it for long. Lamentations are of no use; they make us weaker, they disturb us, they make us sad and they sink us psychologically. We need, if we as a society are still bogged down in anger, to get out of everything that takes away from being fully human and from everything that destroys us internally.

We will come out when all of us, as individuals and as members of our society, ask ourselves the right questions, however crude and not entirely politically correct, and when we respond with the necessary courage, beyond false accusations, with the truth that frees us from past ties and opens up horizons of life and hope.

It will be these new horizons of life and hope, many of which are already being born and growing among us, that will help us to face everything that is happening to us without fear, without resentment and without envy. Strengthened, though still weakened and in need of all kinds of help, we will feel that nature, as long as we respect it and use it properly, will stop responding to us with aggressiveness, arrogance and excess; we will perceive that the whole of humanity needs to return to its point of origin, to its most glorious stages in which all men, from the smallest to the greatest, from the newly-born to the one who is saying goodbye to life, are necessary and we are dispensable and disposable; finally, we will be grateful that above us is the strength and the illusion of life that are born from the Creator of the world, that the only thing he aspires to is that his children live as true brothers and sisters and as beings of solidarity and not of indignation.

The economic and social consequences of the pandemic: in the face of a calculable recession (II)

In this second article, Ramón Tamames, Professor of Economic Structure, EU Jean Monnet Chair and member of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, analyses, together with Antonio Rueda, the economic slowdown in Spain and the collapse of the stock market.

The state of alarm

The Spanish economy was already in a phase of exhaustion of the expansion in the fourth quarter of 2019, with symptoms such as the fall in investment due to institutional and international uncertainty, and stagnation of consumption. Variables that were compensated for by a very active foreign sector, and the increase in public spending.

The government’s belated reaction began to be perceived with the first Royal Decree-Law of 10 March, with measures that did not cover the whole spectrum of problems to be faced. The subsequent Royal Decree-Law of 13 March declared the state of alarm according to Article 116 of the Constitution, which in point 2 states:

    The state of alarm shall be declared by the Government by means of a decree agreed upon in the Council of Ministers for a maximum period of fifteen days, informing the Congress of Deputies, which shall meet immediately for this purpose and without whose authorisation this period cannot be extended. The decree shall determine the territorial scope to which the effects of the declaration are extended.

The state of alarm recognizes that there is a serious problem that requires all the resources of the state, without this generating the suspension of any right, as established in article 55 of the Constitution. The result was the confinement of the population, a measure whose announcement was seen by more than 35 million television viewers.

Source: El País

The late announcement after the Council of Ministers on Friday 13 March raises suspicions of internal discrepancies over the economic and social measures to be taken, measures which have a strong impact on the levels of deficit and public debt established by the EU. Discrepancies, it seems, between the Podemos sector, which advocated focusing on social measures, and the Socialist sector, or between the finance minister, Nadia Calviño, and the social security minister, Jose Luis Escrivá.

Impact on the economy and markets

Tamames analyses the direct impact of the coronavirus on four key economic variables: unemployment, recession, deficit and debt, as well as on the stock market.

With regard to unemployment, it will grow again due to the EREs and ERTEs, reaching around four million people. The recession will undoubtedly occur in 2020, due to the sharp fall in GDP of 12 percent. The public deficit will exceed 1.5 percent in terms of GDP, exceeding the limit of 3 percent set by the European Union, which is expected to relax its requirements.

Finally, the public debt will grow, because the government will not be able to count on tax revenues (which will undoubtedly fall) to finance the welfare state. Spain, therefore, could exceed the threshold of 100% debt/GDP, although with no financing cost to the central banks. This scenario already reflected the rise in the risk premium to 146.20 on 17 March.

The difference between the current crisis and the 2008/2013 financial crisis is the good health of the financial system. In the previous one, the state financed the sector with 61 billion euros – 40 billion from the MEDE (European Financial Stability Mechanism) – and refloated the savings banks, which were affected by failed mortgage loans. And this despite the initial indecision of Zapatero’s government, which was slow to recognise the problem.

The current crisis is therefore being tackled with a healthy credit system and the ECB as a guarantor for emergency action

However, the impact on the stock market has been much greater than that of the past financial crisis; in just one week, the Ibex-35 fell by 40 percent. Thus, on Monday, March 16, the selective fell to levels of 5,900, levels not seen since 2012, after having touched 10,000.  A situation that only injections of liquidity to market makers can alleviate.

Source: El País

As Nobel Laureate in Economics Akerlof (husband of former Fed Chairman Janet Jellen) explains, such sharp falls in the stock market have a psychological impact on the economy, because they paralyse investment.

 


Ramon Tamames

Professor of Economic Structure

EU Jean Monnet Chair

From the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences

Home confinement

It’s a big virus that when I talk or cough it falls to the ground at only four feet. It’s a single-stranded ribonucleic acid virus, and it has the glycoprotein in the form of a spine that recognizes the cells of the lung alveoli and uses them to replicate. It stays on surfaces for a while and if we touch them we load our hands with virus; that protein is dissolved with soap.  Best of all, it doesn’t stay in the body. It now affects 3 percent or 17 people per million. Every year the flu infects ten thousand per million. The Spanish flu of 1918 infected one in twenty people.  Fifty percent of those infected with the current virus will have no symptoms and can spread unknowingly.

All this means that the virus is not in the air, that we can avoid it because it is on surfaces, that we keep the meter and a half of personal proximity and wash our hands with soap because there is no better viricide than it, as well as none cheaper.

Confinement in houses tests our identity because we are a body made to move around as much as possible and that is now restricted.

We are social mammals, our mind has a part of it displaced inhabiting the world around us being itself a part of our mind that now shrinks and limits itself.

Confinement also limits what we are; made up of group relationships, we are connected at night through dreams and by day to our surroundings.  An important part of our identity is what we do, what we invest our time in, and now we cannot do what we have always done.

All of this is held back in seclusion and causes stress. If we confine an animal in freedom, after some time it will have signs, if it is a dog, its hair will fall out with somatic disorders later.

If we do not move very often from the middle age of life we are going to have articular discomfort, because, although it does not look like osteoarthritis, as the atheroma plaques start very soon. Exercise can improve and slow down the inflammatory processes, by producing anti-inflammatory cytokines. If sedentary life persists for a while these cytokines will pass to the brain and alter some of its structures, the result of which will be depression and anxiety. If we have mild hypertension, it will rise without us noticing it. If we don’t move our abdominals we will have constipation. We will sleep poorly as we abandon healthy habits. This means that we must move our body every hour, physical exercise increases the cerebral and joint irrigation, improves the mood by the production of dopamine and encephalines, so it must be the fundamental thing.

Light meals with a 60% of fruits and vegetables, dairy and nuts, almonds, pistachios and walnuts that, together with that one are sedatives and provide us with vitamin D that at home our skin will not be able to synthesize it due to the lack of sun. As we don’t move our muscles enough we will lose muscle mass, sarcopenia, which leads to the need to eat meat, proteins and other foods that we all know contain them to avoid losing muscle mass.

We should not continue to eat as if we were active, let’s do it in small amounts, improving breakfast as the main meal, because it is the least fattening. For breakfast, I recommend a variety of fruits in the blender by adding two or three previously ground nuts. I give a lot of information about this subject in my book Mediterranean Diet and Physical Exercise.

Having a group constitution it is crucial to be connected with our friends, colleagues, family and with very little television that brings us up to date with the dead, we already know that we can infect and be infected, it is enough.

Our body needs food and almost constant daily exercise to nourish our mind.

It needs a variety of stimuli as food. Every day we read Don Quixote, travel books, humorous novels, history and professional subjects. On the other hand, our mental life is healing, enriching, because the media has left its devastating task of presenting us with little characters from three to four in all areas to show us what enriches us, stimulates and capitalizes our mind with people of real value and merit: military, police, health personnel, professionals in other fields that keep Spain working, giving an example of what they have real value. And the crisis shows us some politicians who care exclusively about their own and that we citizens are worth nothing to them, capable of lying, of interrupting the task of national salvation in which we are in order to continue their demolishing, disruptive work, of fragmenting the unity that we need.

Music is a basic necessity, if possible and according to taste, classical, the classical is what continues to move us through time. An arrow, flamenco, Spanish song, opera, as well as classics like Mozart, Albeniz or Rodrigo.

Unfortunately our society has for years removed from the open and paid television programs, a fundamental element: humor. We have a disruptive mood, with bad language and most of it politicized or as a support to power. They have taken away from us the musical films, those of humor, of intelligent dialogues, with accessible plots for those of us who are not violent or attracted by the catastrophes that modern special effects present to us. But it would be a good recipe to be able to see films with human themes, as I say, humorous, musical, historical, anything that stimulates healthy emotions. Even our children have deformed cartoons, strangers with no possibility of identification with their characters.

The television appearances of our military men are doing us a lot of good, because they present us with honesty and good deeds, since our fragile confidence in some politicians who, for a hundred years of that respiratory virus, like this one, the now and provisionally pondered and valued as scientists already knew that pandemics would come and will come with periodicals.

I will end by saying that to keep the body healthy we need culture and the arts. We have all the museums and libraries open, and discipline and concentration in daily tasks and physical exercises. But we know that the mind needs to become obsessive in times of crisis, and focus on a schedule similar to the one we had. It’s a foundation of what we call mental hygiene.


José Antonio Rodríguez Piedrabuena 
Specialist in Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis. Specialist in management training, group and couple therapies.

The economic and social consequences of the pandemic: in the face of a calculable recession (I)

Ramón Tamames, Professor of Economic Structure, Jean Monnet Chair of the European Union and member of the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences, presents his vision of the effects of the coronavirus on world economies, in a series of three articles that we summarize below for the Proa Comunicación Blog.

Black Swan

In assessing the impact of the pandemic, we must take into account the high doses of uncertainty surrounding this disease. Because neither the final effect it will have on economic activity nor the counter-cyclical measures that the government, slow to react, will apply are known.

For the moment, we can only compare what has happened with other pandemics in history. The Spanish flu of 1918, with 260,000 deaths, or the AIDS epidemics in the 1980s, or SARS in China in 1983, with a much lower number of deaths. The current one is the biggest pandemic of modern times, of which we do not have enough data because the country of origin, China, is a dictatorship and surely does not share the information completely.

The economist Nouriel Roubini, first to predict the Lehman Brothers crisis in 2008, warned of white swans (unexpected events with impact on the economy) such as China-USA tensions, the Brexit, or tensions in Iran. Margaret Frankin, President and CEO of the CFA Institute, goes further: “The coronavirus is a vivid and dramatic example of the unpredictable things that can happen in the world and their impact on markets

Therefore, the coronavirus can be considered a black swan. Because the effects of massive confinement for months can be unpredictable in a world of 7.8 billion people,

China as a reference

Taking into account what happened in China, where the virus was found, the mortality rate of the pandemic is higher as the ages of the patients are higher: 9.6% septuagenarians, 16.6% octogenarians, 19% nonagenarians.

And from the macroeconomic point of view, China came from a phase of deceleration that placed the forecasts of a rise in GDP at just under 6%. The OECD forecasts point to a drop of half a point in overall growth, to 2.4%.

China’s leading role in the intensity of the crisis has led the OECD to revise its own estimate. It now estimates the impact at four times the impact of SARS in 2003. Since this year, China’s weight in global GDP has risen from 5 percent to almost 20 percent.

Other impacts on the economy

Professor Tamames reviews other effects of the coronavirus from an economic point of view. First, the price of gold, which rose from a level of 1,200 euros in 2016, per troy ounce (from 31.1 grams), to 1,518 euros on March 15, 2020, a rise of 26.5 percent. Mistrust of the future, and the fall in stock markets, make gold a refuge, as the economist J.M. Keynes predicted.

The second, a more intense decline in the Spanish economy.  Since 2018, the level of family savings measured in volume of deposits in banks, went from 2.14 trillion euros in 2016 to 2.29 trillion in 2019. 150 billion more, which reflects a fact: the lower consumption and investment responds to citizens’ fear of rising unemployment due to the fall of the economy, so they are gathering monetary resources.

And finally, the drop in crude oil prices by more than 50% since January 2020, from around 65 euros/barrel, to just 33 dollars per barrel of Brent. This fall was partly due to Russia’s conflict with OPEC, and the increase in cheap production from Saudi Arabia to eliminate competitors.

Tamames’ conclusion is that “the figures for the fall in GDP as a result of the pandemic, globally, could be staggering, difficult to imagine”. One example is what happened in Japan, which has seen its GDP fall in the first quarter of 2020 by 2.7%, a rate difficult to recover in the rest of the year.

Reactions

Given the scale of the problem, Tamames lists the reactions of political and economic leaders. Thus, he appreciates the meeting between Pedro Sánchez and the president of the OECD, Ángel Gurría, who is in favour of measures to protect employment, provide liquidity to SMEs, and make Brussels more flexible with deficit targets.

The president of the ECB, Christine Lagarde, has moved from initial doubts (“let the EU’s national governments spend their ammunition first”) to realising the real role of the ECB as a driver of recovery, if necessary by launching billion-dollar liquidity injections. Something already perceived by Mario Draghi in 2010, who did “everything necessary to save the euro”, as he stated at the time, and complied.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF), led by Kristalina Giorgeva, announced on 16 March 2020 its willingness to mobilise one billion dollars to combat the pandemic. This money represents its entire lending capacity. The Eurogroup (the 19 European countries with the Euro currency) showed its determination: “We will take any coordinated and decisive political action that is necessary, including fiscal measures, to support growth and employment”.

The G7 promised forcefully but without being specific: “We are committed to doing everything necessary to ensure a strong global response through close cooperation and enhanced coordination of our efforts”. That is, fiscal and monetary stimuli, but without specifying how much. The markets are demanding less talk and more action, according to Tamames.


Ramon Tamames

Professor of Economic Structure

EU Jean Monnet Chair

From the Royal Academy of Moral and Political Sciences

The Spanish Armed Forces’ key contribution to the all-out war against COVID-19

The Spanish Armed Forces are directly involved from the very beginning in total biological warfare against the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The military contribution to defeat the lethal viral infection is made for a very simple reason.

When health and social services, the food supply chain, critical land, air or sea infrastructures are under threat or on the verge of collapse, the Armed Forces are the last collective insurance available to the State to guarantee the survival and dignified living conditions of the Spanish people.

With the sole presence of the military in the streets of cities and towns in our national territory, as well as in airports, railway and port stations, hospitals, health centres, residences to carry out disinfection tasks or collaborate in surveillance and support missions for the Local Police, Civil Guard and National Police, our compatriots perceive that the fight against the coronavirus is very serious. They also visualize that the different military units and their logistic services are organized and trained not only to fight but also to provide immediate help and relief to the civilian population.

The vanguard of the military action in the total war against the implacable coronavirus that plagues the Spanish population is the Emergency Military Unit (EMU), which on the same afternoon of Sunday, 15 March, when the state of alarm was officially activated, deployed its first thousand troops in Madrid, Valencia, Seville, Zaragoza, León, Las Palmas and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the seven cities closest to where the EMU Emergency Intervention Battalions are stationed.

Under the direction of the Chief of Defence Staff (CHOD), Air General Miguel Ángel Villarroya, the Commander-in-Chief of the Operations Command (MOPS), Lieutenant General of the Spanish Army Fernando López Del Pozo has activated Operation Balmis – in homage to the military doctor from Alicante (1753-1819) who brought the smallpox vaccine to the Philippines and Spanish America – and assumes direct command of all operational capabilities, and infrastructure of the EMU, the General Health Inspectorate (IGESAN) and the military operational units of the Armies and Navy.

The number of populations and troops has been progressively increased so that on Thursday, March 19, a total of 2. 662 military of the UME, the Marine Infantry, the Legion and other units of the Army and Air Force were already deployed in 59 towns, both in the main provincial capitals and in smaller towns such as Alcázar de San Juan, Astorga, Avilés, Benidorm, Cariñena, Don Benito, Laredo, Linares, Leganés, Manacor, Mérida, Zafra…

From hospitals to mobile bakeries

But how can military units assist the civilian population in cases of extreme health severity?

The Spanish Armed Forces have an extensive staff of specialist doctors, nurses, pharmacists, veterinarians and psychologists, along with tens of thousands of military personnel from land, sea and air. Most of them have carried out missions and have risked their lives in conflict scenarios outside our borders, such as Afghanistan, Iraq, Gabon, Lebanon, Mali, Central African Republic, Somalia, Senegal and many others.

The military organization has specialized units in biological warfare with special equipment to deal with highly lethal pathogens. It has hospitals, ambulances and medical equipment and is able to provide equipment to set up camps quickly, hundreds of portable kitchens for hot food, baking machines, laundry facilities and mobile showers for communities and has stored for immediate distribution hundreds of thousands of varied food rations for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

In addition, there are dozens of electricity generators and power generators, water and fuel tankers, thousands of transport vehicles of all types, sizes and tonnages, mobile satellite communications and countless air and naval transport services.

Prepared for when they are required

The Ministry of Defence has also alerted about 150 doctors and about 70 nurses on standby to be available when the situation requires it, while instructions have been given to the Military Pharmacy to increase the production of hydroalcoholic disinfectants and generic medicines. The UME is also setting up social canteens, for example at the Madrid Trade Fair Institution (IFEMA) to provide food and health care for the homeless, in collaboration with other ministries.

It is striking that the actions of the UME in Catalonia -an autonomous community with a high volume of infected people- have been delayed until Thursday, March 19th, five days after the state of alarm was activated.

Until that date, the Ministry of Defence did not give the placet for the EMU to proceed with disinfection, support or surveillance tasks for critical infrastructures in Barcelona. A contingent of 85 military personnel and 28 vehicles arrived in the late afternoon of the San José holiday in the county town and distributed their troops between El Prat airport and the port of Barcelona. The defence authorities have made it clear that the deployment in Catalonia and the Basque Country will take place “when requested and necessary”.

With regard to the presence of the EMU in the Basque Country, on the morning of Tuesday, 17 March, around fifty EMU soldiers did not reach their final destination, Vitoria airport, where it was apparently planned and agreed that they would disinfect their facilities to prevent the possible spread of COVID-19 to passengers using their air terminals. Apparently, they had to make do with arriving in the town of Araca -a few kilometres from Vitoria-, in order to disinfect the installations of the military base that the Army has there.


Juan Pons
Senior advisor at Proa Comunicación and Army Colonel

The power of communication in times of confidence crisis

In these days of uncertainty and already physical separation, communication in corporations is more important than ever. Companies have a responsibility to their employees, but also to their customers, suppliers, public administrations, the media or the financial markets, because in addition to guaranteeing their security, the way in which this situation is managed can be decisive for their survival as a corporation.

The power of leadership comes into play. Whether it is on video, live, by message or in print, the voice of the leader is important. This is a traumatic situation that generates panic through fear and reminds us of the negative effects of other difficult times. This fear generates paralysis and this directly affects creativity and our ability to make decisions. The person in charge of the company (CEO, general manager or even the communications director) has to be aware that he or she is facing a crisis of confidence and crises of confidence must be fought with confidence. It is up to him to help and keep his team and other audiences together.

In this sense, communicating the measures to manage the crisis caused by COVID-19 will help companies to minimize the negative impact of the crisis. Communication at this time must be based on four pillars: honesty, transparency, responsibility and consistency. This means telling the truth, not hiding the facts, not blaming others and doing what is being said and saying what is being done.

  • Employees have to find out about any news that affects them from their leaders and never from other means (rumours, social networks, media…). This is the best way for them to continue trusting their organisation.
  • They must know what has happened and how it is directly affecting the company, as a good understanding of the circumstances will help to understand some decisions, even if they are difficult. Communication should facilitate understanding.
  • It is important to communicate what is being done to solve the problem and what the roadmap will be during this time.
  • In the case of dismissals, whether temporary or definitive, the main legal milestones that occur will be transferred to the different audiences.
  • Employees must feel heard and recognized in their commitment. If we listen, we are heard. If we listen we generate bonding and trust. At this point ,it is important to emphasize the importance of empathy and not to leave aside the human factor. We are talking about people.
  • Abandon the tendency to keep a low profile. We live in the era of connectivity and leaders must take advantage of this to maintain a constant, fluid and periodic presence with all interest groups even if there are no great developments. This is a good time to use video, because it helps to convey messages as desired and it is proven that with a reasonable duration they attract more attention and improve retention.
  • Remind them that this is a temporary situation.

Communication becomes a powerful tool that will help keep employees calm, motivated and engaged.


Valvanuz Serna Ruiz
Managing partner in Proa Comunicación

Felipe VI and crisis communication

We lived a few days of emotions of all kinds and all very strong. At a time when the coronavirus has paralysed our lives in the dry we are faced with another scenario that deepens the crisis of the monarchical institution. Or perhaps it strengthens it? Let us analyse a case of crisis communication which, in my opinion, has been effectively resolved in five days and in which Felipe VI comes out stronger.

Day 1: An information blast and a forceful response: Felipe VI and his legal and communication advisors have followed the steps of a crisis communication protocol. On Saturday 14th, The Telegraph, a prestigious British newspaper, reveals in detail the commissions received by Juan Carlos I (the rumour becomes fact) and includes the current King of Spain as the beneficiary.

Day 2. It’s time to react: And how does Zarzuela react? We suppose that the information in The Telegraph falls like a cold water jug in the context of the greatest health and social crisis in Spain and Europe in recent years. They don’t stray from the path and continue to apply the crisis communication protocol: they spend time analysing all the data so as not to leave any loose ends. In twenty-four hours they process the facts and respond with forcefulness.

Day 3. A communique that freezes the blood: On Sunday afternoon, Zarzuela launches a forceful communiqué to manage to install a firewall to protect the Crown in the figure of Felipe VI and the Princess of Asturias. It also distances itself from the activities developed by the King Emeritus, disassociating itself from them but giving them veracity by withdrawing in 24 hours the official assignment to the former King; renouncing his inheritance and including a paragraph in the communique with information provided by Juan Carlos I in which he informs about who will be his defense lawyer and in which he disassociates and exculpates Felipe VI from his activities. A precise, detailed and forceful communique that does not allow the enemy to react. Checkmate. In only three pages on the 3rd, the crisis begins to be contained. As we preach in our manuals: an effective communication in which clarity and transparency are maintained.

Day 4. We need an ally: Crisis containment is a team effort; so after the first twenty-four hours and a Monday to digest the colas, we go in search of an ally. And what better ally than the President of the Government who, moreover, does not want half a problem anymore. At a press conference attended by all the Spanish and international media, another brief and understandable message is launched; Sánchez approves the King’s decision as “necessary” and “coherent”. This support from the Government to the King has made possible the King’s speech on Wednesday at 9 pm.

Day 5. Felipe VI’s reparation: the moment of legimacy arrives. A leader is legitimated by his works and by his behaviour. In a case of crisis communication, the most important thing is to show empathy. In the King’s speech, the Crown puts itself at the service of the people and recovers its reason for being. The speech has also been brief, emotional, forceful and, not to mention the corruption of Juan Carlos I… de facto a new era begins. In his speech, Felipe VI mentioned words such as “strength”; “dedication”, “courage”, “sacrifice”… and stressed the support for the most vulnerable in Spanish society. He also mentions the unity and strength of all the Spanish people united to win against the virus. The Head of State ends with a message of leadership: “Spain will regain its strength and pulse; Spain is a great country”.

In five days of crisis in the Monarchy and Spain in the ICU, the figure of Felipe VI has come out stronger and I believe that not only because he applied with surgical precision the crisis communication manual but, above all, because a deep moral foundation allows him to project authority when everything wavers.


Lucía Casanueva González 
Managing partner in Proa Comunicación

Emotional management of coronavirus crisis

Proa Comunicación offers a service of emotional management of the coronavirus crisis. Ana R. Heras Piedrabuena, HR consultant and trainer of Proa Comunicación, helps companies to avoid the state of paralysis that this situation can produce.

“Fear paralyzes us. In ancient times, the human being was in a permanent state of emergency, had no explanation for what was happening in nature, diseases, infections, death, with very short life expectancies. All that has remained in our brain, in our emotional system. It has been mitigated and not too much, by culture, injecting knowledge and explanations.

Already in our current life we are not aware that these fears of the unknown are very badly tolerated, because they activate those terrors that are in our genetics. In this case, with the coronavirus, we don’t see the enemy, like those primitive ones, we don’t know when or where he will attack us, we have the sensation of not being able to neutralize the enemy, of not being able to dominate our reality. At this moment society becomes hypochondriac, the hypochondriac is afraid of the disease, tries to locate it and name it.

Now we don’t know if our neighbors, relatives or ourselves can get infected, we don’t trust anyone anymore. The collective emotion is one of panic, to our anxiety is added the memory of the devastating effects of the previous economic crisis. When that crisis attacked us, we did not know the extent it could have, nor the effects on our lives. Those effects left us traumatized as a society, amplifying the emotional effect of this crisis that we began to experience these days. We are talking about a sum of emotional traumas that we carry engraved in our emotional system.

The problem is that, if we put ourselves in a panic and survival mode, our creativity is annulled, our capacity to work, to fight, to get ahead is annulled. Companies and entrepreneurs become paralyzed, they “freeze” in the face of terror.

That is why it is more important than ever to put things into perspective, we must protect ourselves, we must take special care of the elderly. But beware of dogmatisms, ideologies, exclusive beliefs, because they give the security of being out of doubt, out of the wrong ones, next to the good ones, localized evil, neutralized, that is another plague, in this case of the mind”.

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