In the wake of the terrible bombing during the Boston Marathon, now would be a good time to review your crisis plan including your crisis communications plan. The Boston Marathon is a world-class organization with solid crisis plans in place along with the City of Boston. They were able to react quickly amidst the chaos.
But what about the businesses within the blast zone? Were they prepared to communication during this unexpected horrific event? As an organization you need to ask yourself what would you have done if it had happened near your business. How would you communicate?
Have you reviewed your crisis communications plan recently?
Ideally you should be reviewing your crisis communications plan quarterly and making adjustments based on the changing landscape. One important piece of a crisis communications plan is how you are able to communication with internal and external stakeholders. You should have notification systems in place before a crisis happens.
During a crisis, you need to be able work with multiple channels of communications to get information out quickly and efficiently. And expanding beyond the traditional means of sharing information through the news media.
You should have more than one channel to reach people within and outside the organization—such as a website, phone trees, or email and text messaging groups. The goal of notification systems is to get the correct information out to the right people fast.
Do you have a way for staff to report in or get information fast? Set up an out-of-area number that staff may call to say they’re OK. For example, it could be your Aunt Mae who lives out of state or 800 number which feeds into the security company. You will want to use your company intranet and email to send out information about the crisis. A phone tree and SMS text messaging are also options.
Your organizational model and industry determine how your notification system will be set up. FedEx, for example, uses the Manager as Communicator model. Important messages and news are sent to managers, and managers hold team meetings to communicate the needed information. If there is an urgent message when the drivers are out on their routes, FedEx sends a dispatch message on the scanner. Before a driver who has received a notification can continue with deliveries, he or she must read the short message.
Externally, the type of industry your organization is in determines the type of notification system. The notification system for a chemical plant is going to be very different from that of a retail store. The principles are the same, though: You want to communicate quickly and effectively reach your communities. You need to know your communities’ preferences. Phone calls, SMS texts, emails, Twitter, Facebook, and traditional media are all acceptable channels.
Keeping your Web site updated is important during a crisis; however, your Facebook page and Twitter feed active by sharing information. Remember that people aren’t necessarily going to go to your website during a crisis. They’re going to turn to sites where their friends and family are likely to be accessible such as Facebook and Twitter.
It is important to get the correct information quickly during a crisis situation. Notifications systems help you do that.
Be prepared to communicate during the unexpected.
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TIME CRUNCH? Are you putting your crisis communications plan together and need help? Or are currently dealing with a crisis and need crisis communications assistance? Get help NOW. Contact Ann Marie at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 302.563.0992 today.