Don’t Turn a Business Outage into a Communication #Fail

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March 20, 2013

Issue 4

Back in October, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast hard. As with most disasters, there was little warning and devastating results. Not only was there massive damage to lives and property, but communication was also affected. In an era defined by communication technology, it was shocking how unprepared many communication companies were.

What have we learned about preparedness in the almost six months that have passed since Hurricane Sandy? In many cases, we’ve learned a lot. Most of the companies caught without a disaster plan are now prepared. However, if you are one of the businesses still not ready for the next surprise, start with this three-pronged plan to get your business up to speed:

1. Business managers must grasp the importance of crisis communication. Disasters can happen at any time and without notice. In fact, “any listed corporation faces an 85% likelihood of experiencing a significant corporate crisis in any five year period.”[1] Be ready to talk with shareholders, media, customers, vendors and anyone else vital to your business. Prepare a positive message with real and accurate information. Many companies have irreparably damaged a reputation and eroded their customer base with non-existent or ineffective communication plans.

2. Email servers go down? Phone lines out? Have a plan for when your business processes are interrupted, and test it before disaster strikes. Outline how you intend to inform staff about these issues and keep them updated as you determine how to get back on track. Identify responsible departments and people. This is especially important if you have a business-to-business company, because other companies rely on your business to keep their offices running.

3. Have distribution channels that will keep working, even if your office is down. A resourceful tool is social media. Almost everyone is on some sort of social network, making it a great way to exchange information—especially when landlines are down and all you have is a smart phone. Clients will expect to find your messages there too. Social networks can act as a modern-day emergency broadcast system. However, do not ignore more traditional tactics such as corporate hotlines or tapping a call center that can provide essential services and relay messages from locations outside the hot zone.

These three simple steps will go a long way to ensure that any damage to your business is easy to fix. Prepare a plan to communicate with your clients at every step of the recovery process. Make sure you have a backup plan for those emergencies, and don’t be afraid to use social networks as a way to share. Bottom line, don’t have a communication #fail.

[1] Crowd Control HQ.(2012) Braving the Social Media Crisis [White Paper] Retrieved from http://crowdcontrolhq.com/social-media-risk-crisis.php

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