How to Create a Crisis Communication Plan

 Article originally appeared on AmTrust Financial.

Summary: Staying in touch with employees following any type of crisis situation is critical to their safety. In this article, we’ll discuss what information is necessary to include when creating a crisis communication plan. 

When an emergency strikes, confusion can follow. Communication is of the utmost importance to keep the situation under control. Unfortunately, figuring out how and what to communicate when you’re in the middle of a crisis is no easy task, and delays can make the situation worse. All businesses should create a comprehensive business continuity plan that includes a crisis communication plan to ensure a successful recovery from any type of disaster. 

The Importance of Communicating with Employees During a Crisis

A lot can go wrong if employees aren’t kept in the loop when a hurricane, fire or other disaster hits. For example: 

  • Employees may try to go to work when it is unsafe to do so.
  • Employees may not know when to return to work.
  • Employees may become dissatisfied with the company.
  • Employees may voice frustrations on social media, damaging the company’s reputation.

A good crisis communication plan can help your business avoid these types of problems.

Creating a Crisis Communication Plan

A crisis communication plan is a crucial component of every preparedness program. It ensures that you can immediately communicate with key audiences during an emergency, even if your physical location is inaccessible. Here are a few tips for creating a robust crisis communication plan for your organization. 

Maintain Current Employee Contact Information

Employers should keep current contact information for all employees. 

  • Include cell phone numbers, email addresses and an emergency contact. Remember that employees may not be reachable at home during a natural disaster that prompts evacuations.
  • Keep the contact information readily available. The company’s physical location may not be accessible during a crisis, but the contact information should still be accessible. At the same time, cybersecurity and privacy issues must be considered when storing information digitally.
  • Update the contact information regularly. Employees may change their phone numbers and email addresses, so this information should be reviewed often.

Give Employees a Contact

Communication shouldn’t only go one way. Make sure employees have a way to get information during a crisis. 

  • Establish a communications coordinator who will be in charge of crisis communications.
  • Give employees contact information, such as a phone number and email address.

Assign one person to be in charge of crisis communications. This person will work with senior management to coordinate the flow of information. 

Establish Your Communication Strategy

Businesses have many communication options. Select your main communication strategy or strategies, as well as backup strategies in case there are problems. Let your employees know which communication methods you will be using. These may include: 

  • Telephone
  • Text Message
  • Email
  • Website
  • Employee Portal
  • Social Media
  • Letters
  • Press Release

Other Groups to Involve in Communications

In addition to employees, businesses may need to communicate with a variety of other groups during a crisis. As part of your crisis communication plan, consider the circumstances under which you would need to contact various groups, such as: 

  • Customers and clients
  • Vendors
  • Suppliers
  • Stakeholders
  • Regulatory agencies
  • The media
  • The community and neighboring businesses

Create Communication Templates

By writing crisis communication templates, you can save time during a crisis and ensure that the right message goes out with the right tone. Different templates may be needed for different events and audiences. A few templates to consider creating include: 

  • Crisis Is Possible – What’s Being Done/Next Steps
  • Location Is Closed (Employees)
  • Location Is Closed (Customers/Clients)
  • Location Is Closed (Vendors/Suppliers)
  • Location Is Reopening (Employees)
  • Location Is Reopening (Customers/Clients)
  • Location Is Reopening (Vendors/Suppliers)
  • Updates to Regulatory Agencies
  • Updates to Stakeholders
  • Press Releases

Additionally, create a crisis communication checklist. When appropriate, ensure that every communication includes: 

  • What happened
  • When and where it happened
  • The severity of the problem
  • Who is affected
  • How your facilities/products/services are impacted
  • How to obtain more information
  • Expected next steps

AmTrust’s Loss Control Department Helps Businesses Minimize Risk

AmTrust’s Loss Control Department provides a variety of safety resources and risk management solutions designed to keep your business and your employees safe. We have the expertise and the tools to identify the common hazards facing your operation and can help you decrease risk. For more information about our loss control services, please contact us today.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.