This post is part of a weekly series focused on National Preparedness Month.
When disaster strikes, communicating critical and time-sensitive information to your business or HBA stakeholders is key to ensuring the safety of staff and continuity of business operations. Adding to further complexity, communications infrastructure could be damaged limiting cell phone service or internet connections. Developing a crisis communication plan before an emergency can help your business or HBA execute a well-organized response.
Communications during disasters can encompass a range of messages from conveying vital emergency plans to employees to airing public safety announcements (PSAs) to consumers. A crisis communication plan should include key audiences, tailored information for each audience and guidance on how to relay the information to your target audiences.
To help you develop a comprehensive crisis communication plan, consider the following:
- Identify Your Audiences/Stakeholders. Which internal and external contacts are essential to your business or HBA core operations? Management teams, board members, employees, vendors and customers all require different information at different times during a disaster or emergency. Develop a contact sheet with telephone numbers and email address to have on hand and quickly reference. You may want to consider creating a “web” or contact map that shows how groups relate to your business.
- Tailor Content for Your Audiences. Examine what types of information are appropriate for each audience before, during and after a disaster or crisis scenario. Examples include sharing emergency plans with employees, sending job site instructions for sub-contractors or suppliers, providing resources for members or disseminating safety information to the public. Create a spreadsheet with links to internal documents, government websites or PSAs you can easily access and share with your various audiences.
- Determine Communications Channels. Evaluate the best way to get messaging out to your audience such as in-person, paper or email, radio, telephone, social media or television. The type of information will determine the best communication channel whether it be radio to transmit a PSA or a telephone call to reach the management team. Make sure to plan for communications redundancies as certain channels may not be available due to disaster impacts.