Covid-19 has thoroughly shaken our way of working. As a result, you are faced with challenges that you have never had to deal with before.

We, as experts in crisis communication, public affairs and public relations, are here to help you in these times.

The values of our work remain during these times, we like to share our knowledge with you.

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"This health crisis has and will have a impact on the people’s way of living, economies and companies. We often receive requests from companies on how to manage this 'new normal'. 

At Interel Belgium, we therefore decided to launch a Q&A platform '#Ask @ Interel', centralizing all crisis communication, public affairs and public relations questions and best practices related to the Covid-19 challenges. Feel free to ask your questions, our experts are here to help."

Florence Muls, Managing Director at Interel Belgium


Media Training

How can you take the floor during a video conference?

In the context of a video conference, it is not always easy to make your voice heard and to ask your questions easily, especially if the audience is large. Use preferably the Chat function to directly ask your questions avoiding to interrupt others when you’re in a video conference with a larger audience.

Nevertheless, when you get the floor, save your words and get to the point. This ensures that your question or message is quickly passed on to the other party. It is also necessary to wait a moment before answering a question or taking the floor because a small technical delay cannot be excluded.

How do I manage my “eye-contact” during an interview via Skype or Zoom?

Eye contact is crucial when you speak to a small or large audience. And it remains essential during a video conference. Therefore, we recommend to look at the camera of your computer. It is not easy to maintain this contact throughout the conference because you face multiple screens, or even worse, a disturbing dark screen, however, it is there and only there, that you will be able to catch your audience’s attention and to keep your public engaged through your presentation. Just practice: with the help of habit, this will become perfectly natural.

External Communication

Who should be in charge of external communication?

This question really depends on the situation. In a normal situation it is recommended to have a spokesperson who can answer more general questions. When a technical aspect needs to be addressed, an expert can take the floor. However, it is important that this expert is well prepared to answer questions from journalists. Journalists have a specific way of asking questions, so training is therefore key.

During a crisis, it is important that the CEO takes the floor at some point. Again, the CEO needs to be trained in answering questions from journalists.

Finally, when doing reputation building, we also recommend having the CEO take the word.

Is it "okay" to organise events for stakeholders and press again?

It is important to carefully consider whether it is really necessary to organise this event in real life or whether there is also an option to organise it virtually: - What is the in-house policy? - What would be the added value of organising this event in real life? - Can this event take place while respecting the safety measures? - What is the alternative? If there is no absolute added value, we would choose to continue to organise the event virtually, out of respect for your targeted public. Think out of the box and great initiatives can be achieved.

Public Affairs

What will be the impact of Covid-19 on public affairs?

Just like after the Franco-Prussian War, chances are that such an urge for getting back at the enemy will determine the new equilibrium between businesses, citizens and the public sector, following the current sway of the Covid-19 virus on the political, administrative and socio-economic structures of our country. As a consequence, the interests of companies and their employees will have to be advanced in a significantly different framework set by governments and other authorities. In the short term, policy-making will be faster and more profound than before. For businesses, this will be vital. In the long run, the government will want to regain lost ground while at the same time making new demands.

How can we get prepared to face the post-crisis new normal with regards to public affairs?

The one-size-fits-all lobbying plans prepared by foreign headquarters, carelessly rolled out in relevant markets, will have to be tailored to local realities. During this crisis, policy makers are constantly looking for legitimacy, which is why well-founded representation of interests is necessary in order to achieve social progress. To overcome the increased suspicion, public affairs professionals will have to establish a better connection with policymakers, much more transparent and solid than before. To achieve this, companies will have to tell far better stories, and understand that their audience is the only relevant judge.

To learn more about corporate storytelling, we advise you to take a look at our recorded webinar on storytelling with Karel Joos, partner at Interel:

How can social media be an added value to your Public Affairs strategy?

In today’s society, social media play an important role. People often use this medium to express their opinion and certain topics can generate a lot of reactions online, which can come from various sources (politicians, companies…). Therefore, it can be very to include social media monitoring tool in your PA strategy. The social media monitoring tool allow you to stay aware of your key stakeholders’ opinion on a day to day basis as well as to take appropriate action if required.

Crisis Communication

Should we respond to journalists contacting us for a statement about how Covid-19 has impacted our business?

If journalists want to uncover something, chances are they'll keep looking until they find what they're looking for. It is therefore advisable to have a holding statement ready that can be sent to the journalists when they ask for an interview, etc. At a later stage, it is still possible to send a press release or accept interviews. When accepting an interview, we recommend to be well prepared by having a Q&A ready. It is also advisable to have a spokesperson who has followed media training to do the interviews.

Who should be in charge of your communication in times of crisis?

It is important to constitute a small team of reliable members and give them sufficient leeway to make quick tactical decisions. Even if they look tireless, make sure they can rely on back-ups. A crisis can arise at any time. This means that your team should consist of a team of experts but also junior profiles to help them wherever possible and whenever needed. You know when your crisis starts, but you never know when it stops. 

Internal Communication

Internal versus external communication – where does the priority lie?

Both internal and external communications are important during a crisis. It is important that the right message is put across externally, but also within your company. By implementing the right actions internally, you can keep your employees informed and involved, reinforce values and missions and create a corporate culture. This also helps you reassure your employees in times of crisis. The communication canal you choose will also play an important role on how the information will be received and in today's context, digital solutions are of big help to spread your message. In conclusion, we believe that your internal communication actions can benefit your external actions and vice versa.

How to establish efficient internal communication while teleworking?

Communicating without seeing each other is not always easy, but it remains nevertheless essential for the company. How can you improve your communication? First of all, plan your daily tasks and share your schedule with your colleagues. Preparing the day allows you to set the objectives to be achieved at the end of the day. By sharing your schedule, your colleagues can help you at the right time of the day. Secondly, for a successful communication, it is important to set aside time to communicate with your colleagues. Planning communication moments allows you to take stock of the situation, but also to answer any questions your colleagues may have. These moments also make it possible to rectify your work if necessary, so as not to be counter-productive. Furthermore, in order to have optimal communication, it is essential to centralise the various exchanges on one platform. Centralising allows easy retrieval of the information provided. But also to ensure that your colleagues have received your comments. Finally, the importance of the choice of words is not to be neglected. Written communication obscures feelings and misunderstandings can easily occur. It is therefore essential to give importance to communicating carefully in order to get the right message across.