Hurricane season is officially upon us and every new weather formation will heighten anxieties across the eastern seaboard from June 1- November 30. A sound, up-to-date communications plan is vital to mitigating the sense of chaos that comes with natural disasters. Here are five tips for updating your crisis communications plan:
1. REVISE YOUR PLAN – The communication plan needs revisiting every year in anticipation of hurricane season. Find areas where there is room for improvement and revamp the strategy. Where there is an opportunity to utilize new technology, make that inclusion. Then, familiarize your colleagues and employees ahead of time with the plan so that everyone is on the same page, and prepared for the emergency event.
2. CRISIS AS OPPORTUNITY – How organizations manage crisis can leave a lasting impression on their capability. In this way, crisis can present a make or break moment for a business’ reputation. People remember which business was first to regain normalcy and which ones managed the situation effectively with accurate and timely information. Customers and constituents also notice when a business is disorganized and uncommunicative – the difference is in the crisis communication plan.
3. TAILOR YOUR PREPARATION – Different emergency events call for different preparations and communication measures. Just as every household must plan their disaster kit so must businesses. Arrangements must be made well in advance to mitigate supply disruptions during the crisis. In addition, roles and responsibilities should be determined, including who the spokesperson will be before, during and after the event. Having these crucial decisions made ahead of time will result in a more orderly response effort and help your business get its doors open sooner.
4. PRIORITIZE COMMUNICATION TOOLS – There is a wide variety of ways to convey information during a disaster, and it’s essential to inform your staff, constituents and customers how they can find important information and when it will be available. If you need to reach them regarding an extreme emergency, how would you do that – phone calls, text messages, messages on the company homepage? Identify when specific communication tools should be used and for what purposes.
5. KEY ELEMENTS – These are the primary components that should comprise the bulk of your crisis communications plan. They include the steps for utilizing the communication tools, the emergency contact information, media contacts, templates for appropriate messaging, and the hierarchy of administrative roles in the event of an emergency. While there is more to an effective plan than this, make sure these are included at a minimum.
Don’t be caught off guard during hurricane season – solidify your communication plan sooner rather than later, and it will mean all the difference to your business in the aftermath of a storm.