One of the first things people do when disaster strikes is start communicating. Someone calls 911. Emergency response groups learn and relay important facts about the incident. And people speculate about what happened, why it happened, and what will happen now.
As a business, it is vital to be ready to respond when disasters occur. In order to keep gossip to a minimum and maintain a positive reputation, clear communication about the incident must occur in a timely fashion. This can be hard to do when there is concern over the well being of employees or pressure to provide an explanation about who is responsible. Adding to this stress is that all of the facts may not be known right away, yet communications still need to be sent.
So how does a business take steps to ensure clear, timely communications occur under all of that pressure? This post provides you with a few tips to help you (and your business) communicate effectively in the aftermath of a disaster.
It is hard to figure out exactly what you want to say when you are under a lot of pressure and stress. So, figure it out now. Draft templates for voicemails, website notices, social media posts, and press releases. That way when an incident occurs, all you need to do is copy and paste the content and add the relevant information about the incident. Don’t forget to have Management approve the communications before they are sent out!
2. Up to Date Contact Information
Having the message to send is only half the battle. You also need to know whom you’re sending it to, and how. Take the time today to pull together a list of everyone that will need to receive communications during an incident. This list might include employees, suppliers, customers, Board of Directors, the media, etc. As you pull together this list, make sure you get names, phone numbers and emails. Store and maintain these lists where you can access them any time.
3. Multiple Methods
Decide on a number of different methods to get your message out. Examples include:
- Phone calls/voicemails
- Call in numbers/hotlines
- Text messages
- Social media
- Press releases
Make sure that everyone knows ahead of time where to look for your message (or if they should expect an email or phone call from you).
4. Media Spokesperson
Pick a media spokesperson now. There should be one person responsible for talking to the media and answering questions after an incident occurs. You can pick one or two people to act as back ups too. Send your media spokesperson(s) for training so they know what to say, and just as important, what not to say.
5. Constant Communication
Sending out an initial message telling your vendors or customers that a disaster took place is important. Following up on that message with new, pertinent information is just as important. Let people know:
- What happened
- When it happened
- How many were injured (if any)
- Why it happened, and who is responsible
- What your business is going to do to keep it from happening again (if possible)
- When to expect the next communication
6. Notification Tool
There are many different tools available to help you communicate your message quickly to a large group of people. Some are full mass notification tools complete with all the bells and whistles, while others offer the ability to send text messages and/or emails to an identified group of individuals (like BEAM). These tools are most effective in situations where your company’s own communication tools may be down due to the incident.
As you may have noticed, all of these tips need you to start planning now. The more you accomplish today, the less you need to do when disaster strikes. To learn more tips about business continuity planning, or how KingsBridge Is Simple and Straightforward (K.I.S.S.), check out our website today!
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