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Is Your Company Prepared to Respond After a Disaster?

Is Your Company Prepared to Respond After a Disaster?

By Carol Chastang, SBA Official
Published: June 4, 2012 Updated: June 11, 2012

When a disaster occurs, it’s often the misleading bit of information shared by an outsider that gins up rumors about a damaged business shutting down.  Obviously, this situation undermines the company’s ability to recover. That’s one big reason why precise, effective communication – within the organization, and out to the public – is vital during an emergency.

Now that the Atlantic Hurricane season has begun, it’s a good time to set up an effective crisis communications strategy.  You want to develop a plan to make sure your employees, customers, vendors, contractors – everyone you do business with – is aware of the progress you’re making as you recover in the aftermath of a disaster.

Here are a few tips to get your company’s crisis communications plan started:

  • Develop and regularly update an Emergency Contact List that includes a home phone, alternate mobile, personal email, family contact information, and the evacuation plan.
  • Establish an email alert system capable of multiple means of communication to employees, stakeholders and clients.  Test the alert system regularly.
  • Consider an online social network platform for web-based crisis communications (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Having a plan to deal with local media is also essential. With a good strategy in place, the media can become a supportive function as you rebuild after a disaster.
  • Designate primary and secondary spokespersons, and give them training in dealing with the media. Make sure all employees know the name of the spokesperson.
  • Create key message and talking points to ensure consistent messaging.
  • Continuously monitor what’s being said and written about your company both online and offline, so you can evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of your strategy and messaging.

After the crisis, notify all critical people of your next steps. It’s also a good idea to do a debrief with your staff to evaluate lessons learned, and how to improve the plan if necessary.

There’s a great crisis communications checklist on Agility Recovery’s website.  Use it to create your own plan.

About the Author:

Carol Chastang

SBA Official