Hurricane season is here.
The forecast might be “below average” this year, but experts are still predicting two to three Category 3+ storms during peak hurricane season (mid-August through mid-October). Considering the devastation was saw last year, that’s more than enough reason to be on high alert.
Having a detailed, thorough crisis communications plan is a crucial component of hurricane preparedness. Here’s how to ensure you’re ready to go:
1. Prepare emergency plans and content outlining them. If you’re in the travel or hotel business, destinations and properties should be equipped with crucial information that can be easily communicated to tourists leading up to, and immediately following, a storm.
- Regardless of your business or industry, your crisis content should include concrete preparedness steps, including safety measures during a storm, evacuation plans, and information on obtaining fuel, food and water supplies. Having essentials in place will free up resources to focus on emergency relief in the immediate aftermath of a storm.
- Content should be developed for various channels, depending on what would be most appropriate and accessible in the affected areas. Plan accordingly for long-term power outages.
- Compile relevant contact information (safety and law enforcement authorities, tourism board, emergency response, airlines, sister properties, nearby properties, etc.) to ensure your people have access to support and emergency personnel.
2. Create an external communication plan for sharing updates and information. If a storm causes power and telecommunications outages, it is essential to have a plan in place for how to communicate with authorities, industry partners, customers, travelers and journalists. It’s important to provide timely updates to let the public know what’s happening on the ground.
- Equip key players with satellite phones. Ensure off-site contingency plans for who will communicate to partners, customers, travelers and journalists if power and telecommunications go down.
- Provide satellite phone numbers and offsite contacts to partners at the onset of hurricane season, so local leaders know whom to reach in the event of a serious storm.
- Ensure all key players have necessary contact information for relevant government resources, as they are primarily responsible for emergency operational response.
3. Proactively communicate hurricane season preparedness efforts in advance. If you wait until a storm hits to communicate everyone’s roles and responsibilities, it’s too late.
- Your content should address readiness and contingency plans that are in place, including specific details on what certain people are responsible for.
- Use video and visuals to show, rather than tell, exactly what staff members’ roles are in the event of a storm.
- Consider conducting interviews with journalists to demonstrate preparedness efforts.
Even with a tamer hurricane season predicted, it’s important to get your preparedness plans in place—right now. Of course, being prepared goes beyond the physical things you need to keep your staffers and customers safe.
The communications element is just as crucial, as that is what dictates who is responsible for what in a crisis. Having a detailed plan is place is the best way to prevent chaos, panic and preventable tragedies.
Now is the time to make sure your communications plan is much more than just a binder in a drawer. Are you ready, and is your team prepared?
A version of this post first appeared on the Ketchum PR blog.
Tags: Crisis Communications