Disaster response communication plans aren’t just for FTSE 100 companies with multinational assets; small businesses should have one too.
Regardless of the disaster, whether it’s a fire or flood, a cyber security breach, or the death of an employee, having a communication plan in place makes the business side of coping easier.
Here are some things to consider when creating a disaster response marketing communication plan.
Create a Task List
First and foremost, identify what needs to be done if a disaster is imminent (such as a flood) or has transpired (such as a fire). You may have different task lists based on different events. This list should include phone numbers to call, as well as who is responsible for what tasks. It should outline the chain of command, and give employees simple steps for what to do when an issue occurs.
The list should be all-inclusive. Everything from posting on social media to updating automated chat responses should be covered on the disaster plan.
Have an Off-site Back-up
The importance of backing up accounting software, employee records, etc. cannot be understated. It’s also important to have documents backed up in a different geographical location.
For large corporations, this often means working with a third-party provider that has remote infrastructure to store data. For small businesses, it’s essential to have a Dropbox or Google Drive where vital information is stored, as well as a flash drive or external hard drive that’s protected from the elements. Ensure that the key stakeholders know how to access this information as a part of the disaster plan.
Create Your Messaging Now
While one part of your disaster response plan will outline what to do and when to do it, another should describe what you plan on saying. Creating a template for various disasters and filling in the blanks should the issue arise will help you stay focused.
Consider this: you’re a small business owner who was hit by a fire. Your business didn’t sustain much damage, but your home is destroyed. Thinking of what to say to your employees and customers could be challenging at this time– you’re understandably distracted. Being able to pull up the information you’ve put together while in the right frame of mind allows you to communicate clearly and succinctly so you can focus on things that matter.
Consider the things you’ll say to employees, customers, suppliers, investors, stakeholders, etc. Create templates for these purposes that you can copy and paste should a disaster occur.
Set Communication Priorities
Depending on the nature of the disaster, various groups will be impacted in different ways.
For example, the death of an employee will impact the other employees the most. In this case, the other employees would be at the top of the communication hierarchy, followed by customers.
If a data breach occurred, communicating with key stakeholders in the business would take precedence, followed by the employees, and then the customers and media.
If a fire took place, vendors and customers would likely need to be notified right away, as well as employees.
Make a plan for various scenarios with a checklist, so no one is missed if an event takes place.
Predict Frequently Asked Questions
Try and predict the questions that various groups would ask if an event occurred. For employees, you can expect questions about job security, reporting structure, what to say when asked questions by customers or media, payment interruptions, etc. Customers and suppliers will have questions about service interruptions, estimated times for restoration, and so on.
Having these answers ready to go will help show that you have the situation under control, and maintain trust and relationships.
Putting it All Together
When you have a disaster communication plan put together, be sure that key stakeholders have copies. Store both electronic copies and paper copies in easy-to-access locations, such as a weather-resistant safe and a cloud sharing file.
Being prepared will help mitigate the negative impact on a business, whether it be through the disaster itself or the aftermath. If however, you are reading this article after disaster has already struck, our business rescue experts can provide you with the options to get back on track.