Kauai, Florida, and Louisiana (to name a few) businesses have learned from past experiences that one can never be too prepared for a hurricane or other natural disaster. Especially since each business has a base of people for whom it is responsible, whether it’s employees, vendors, customers, or the public at large. As we enter the heart of our hurricane season, we bring you these seven helpful tips to help your business prepare for a hurricane from a public relations angle.
Before a hurricane occurs and potential impacts threaten the public and customers, businesses must have a plan. Being proactive can avoid panic and distress in the midst of an emergency. Your plan should include:
- An emergency staffing structure. Who will be your company spokesperson(s) and who will develop and implement emergency communications strategies?
- A qualified spokesperson. Who knows enough about the business to provide accurate company information? Have they been trained and are they prepared to speak confidently with members of the media?
- Employee guidelines. Are your employees aware of what their roles are in an emergency? Do you have a communications process and plan in place that they are familiar with?
- Media policy. Do you have a policy on providing statements to the public and news media on behalf of the company?
- Sample documents. Are there any emergency communications documents you can prepare ahead of time, like sample news releases and media talking points.
- Contact list. Do you have an up-to-date contact list including emergency numbers as well as your business’s key customers and vendors?
- Alternative communications tools. Do you have communications tools to reach your contacts in case the usual ones aren’t available? Phone lines and email may not be a communications option.
Remember, these tips can also be applied to and customized for other natural disaster situations. For more information on hurricane preparedness, visit http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/HAW2/english/intro.shtml.