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Have an Emergency Crisis Communications Plan

Crisis Communications

Begin with your General Risk Assessment:

1 Identify the top threats to your organization and any risks and vulnerabilities.

2 Analyze what business functions are critical to your business operations.

3 Identify the resources needed to protect those business functions.

4 People, Processes, Technology required and Communications needs associated with each.

Establish a Crisis Communications Team, and identify those within that group responsible for Communications.

Develop and regularly update an Emergency Contact List to include:

1 Home Phone Numbers.

2 Alternate Numbers.

3 Personal Emails.

4 Contact Information for Relatives.

5 Personal Evacuation Plans.

Consider setting up an Alert Notification System. Be sure to check this system regularly and ensure that its working.

Ensure that employee and mobile voice vendors are not reliant on a single network connection.

Utilize multiple carriers and train all critical staff members on the use of the messaging system.

Establish a formal plan for an employee's immediate family and close relatives in the event of loss of life, and missing persons.

Additionally, ensure that those whom employees depend on such as child caregivers and pet sitters can receive appropriate information.

Ensure that a formal system exists to integrate new hires into this Communications Plan.

Make sure that as each new hire is processed that they are added to the system.

Consider an Online Social Networking Platform for web‐based crisis communications (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, for example.)

Establish an easily accessed database of information about the company and your disaster plans.

The database should include company media files, logos, other necessary images, critical documents, key contacts, etc.

Have a response plan for Network, Voice Communications, and Phone redirection.

1 Consider a hosted VOIP service.

2 Consider having a hosted E‐mail provider (Google, Microsoft Office 365, or other)

3 Consider your Firewall Services, Terminal Services, and Virtual Private Networks

Coordinate your Crisis Communications Planning with your Vendors and Suppliers to ensure a seamless transition.

Develop and test your Media Communications Strategy:

1 Designate both primary and secondary spokespersons.

2 Ensure all employees know whom the media spokesperson is and their role in the plan.

3 Arrange for media to have 24‐hour access to a spokesperson.

4 Ensure designated spokespersons receive training on dealing with the media as a public information officer.

5 Establish a policy for all employee interaction with the Media, both on and off-site.

6 Maintain trustworthy relationships with the media at all times. If you do, the media will be less suspicious and more cooperative during the crisis.

7 Identify key audiences and develop a strategy for handling each.

8 Create key messaging & talking points to ensure a consistent message.

9 Ensure you have your media kit at the ready containing information about your organization, as well as a list of approved contacts.

10 Discuss all possible problem areas and potential negative impacts of the crisis situation.

11 Identify main the media outlets through which information about your organization will be disseminated.

Have all employee, vendor, donor/customer & media contact information on hand or easily accessible.

Be the first to break the news about how your organization is responding. Even if the situation is still evolving by beginning with a full disclosure.

Always respond to media requests and set up an hourly time frame for updates and location where media can be situated to wait for updates.

Continue to communicate with all key audiences until the crisis has passed. Consistency is very important.

Continuously monitor both online and offline conversations in order to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your strategy and messaging.

Make sure to be cognisant of what you say, as there is no such thing as “off the record.” Confirm your facts; communicate openly and accurately about the situation.

Your communications team must know the proper, and approved messages.

During evacuation have a central point of contact for all employees, and ensure that you know where your people will be located.

During an evacuation consider your phones lines ‐ redirection using VOIP services to smart phones, answering services, Google Voice, or backup lines could be critical. Make sure the lines are monitored.

Following the crisis, notify all critical personnel of the next steps.

Learn from the experience and anticipate the next crisis. Plan for likely and even unlikely scenarios based on this most recent crisis, and know the steps you are going to take before you have to take them.

Debrief staff on their experiences, praising people for what went well.

Improve your plan as needed, make sure to implement changes to the plan to smooth out situations that didn't go well, and aim to regularly update the plan.

Make sure to include a mechanism to respond to any lingering fallout from the most recent crisis/situation.

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