Tropical Storm Laura marked the second time this summer that Southwest Florida found itself inside the “cone of uncertainty.” The first time was Hurricane Isaias in early August.
It’s important to tune into the National Hurricane Center’s latest forecast tracks. Businesses also need to tune into their crisis communications plans.
In 2017, Hurricane Irma caught many Florida businesses and organizations off guard. They scrambled to dust off old hurricane plans. Unfortunately, their content was grossly outdated. Twitter didn’t even exist during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons. Facebook was just getting started. Livestreaming was rare.
Beyond Laura, forecasters expect the 2020 hurricane season to remain active. Preparing a crisis communications plan prior to a storm is essential.
Below are five steps to building a successful hurricane communications plan:
Do you have a crisis communications plan? If not, get one. The ideal time to create any crisis communications plan is before there is a crisis. Likewise, the best time to develop a hurricane communications plan is before employees are scouring the lumberyard looking for plywood or waiting in lines at the gas station. Imagine every scenario – wind, rain, flooding, loss of power, loss of facilities and shortage of supplies. Include those steps in the plan.
Who is part of your core decision-making team? Department leaders and employees must know who is doing what, how to reach them and where they plan to be during and after the storm.
How will you communicate to stakeholders? Be proactive when communicating with employees, customers and clients about hours of operation, damage and temporary closures. You can never over-communicate during times of crisis.
Means of Communications
What platforms will you use to communicate? Years ago, a phone tree was an effective, fast method of communications. Now, businesses can use phones, text messages, group chats, social media, website messages, emails, television and radio to relay communications to employees, customers and clients. Have a presence on all platforms whenever possible.
Are you equipped to be more responsive than ever? Phone calls, emails and social media comments can flow fast and furious, so someone must be designated to respond in a timely manner with accurate, up-to-date information.
DOWNLOAD: Crisis Communications Playbook
Creating a crisis communications plan and hurricane communications plan ensures your business or organization is well-prepared to navigate through difficult situations. It’s also an opportunity to shine when all eyes are looking in your direction.