Are You Prepared? 5 Tips for Developing Strategic Emergency-Related Communications

September 26, 2023
Are You Prepared? 5 Tips for Developing Strategic Emergency-Related Communications

Companies should not be defined by an emergency or crisis but how the company responds and successfully overcomes the crisis. Unfortunately for some, the reaction to a crisis does negatively define them, largely due to a lack of transparency and providing a timely response or communication to the appropriate audiences.

Your company’s brand and reputation could be at stake when a crisis occurs – no matter how big or small. It could be a more common threat like a power outage that impacts company operations, a technology delay that frustrates customers enough to post about it on social media, or a weather issue that significantly impacts your customers, employees and their families. 

How and when you respond to a crisis is critical to how your workforce sees you as a leader as well as how your customers and prospects may feel about you and your brand in the future.

Here are five tips small and medium-size businesses should consider to be more proactive in planning for and handling the next incident or crisis. 

1. Develop Crisis Management Playbooks

Every good team needs guidelines and direction to succeed, and that is especially true in a crisis. Having crisis management playbooks help ensure all vital information is in one convenient location when an emergency strikes, such as a natural disaster.

A crisis management playbook can be an invaluable resource for common threats to your company, like those mentioned above, and can help protect your brand and reputation.

What is in a crisis management playbook?

  • Key stakeholders and their contact information
  • Policies and procedures
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Checklists of necessary action items
  • Prepared drafts of holding statements and communications

Playbooks can contain sensitive material and may be considered confidential documents. Keep playbooks on a secured drive and consider printing a copy and storing it in a secure location in the event technology issues prevent you from accessing it digitally.

2. Be Prepared with Holding Statements

You know your company better than anyone. Identify issues you may have encountered in the past and potential issues that may arise in the future. Drafting holding statements – a short response to an incident – can save time and stress when an incident happens. Keep in mind that certain crises, such as a disease outbreak, may require you to provide specific notice to those impacted, especially your employees.

What is a holding statement?

Holding statements address the five Ws and one H:

  • Who was impacted
  • What happened
  • When the incident occurred
  • Why it is important for people to know
  • Where your workforce or customers can go for more information or assistance
  • How you plan to resolve the issue

Statements should be concise and empathetic to the situation and audience. In most instances, this will not be your last statement addressing the issue.

3. Slow and Steady Doesn’t Always Win the Race

Time is of the essence when your company’s brand and reputation is on the line. Stay calm, sort out the facts, and be transparent with your workforce and the public in a timely manner. For example, having a prepared holding statement ready, that just needs a few details added in, can save valuable time. 

Why does time matter?

It can keep rumors from flying and inaccurate information from spreading, keeping you in control of the narrative. When companies wait too long to address an issue, this not only leads to misinformation spreading, but potentially hefty fines for a company, public hearings, and sometimes irreversible reputational damage, among other possible negative consequences. Don’t let that happen to you!

4. Consider Text Messaging Platforms

Reaching your workforce or customers quickly and efficiently can be a challenge. Signing up for a text message platform can be a cost-effective way to reach your audience fast. Not everyone may answer a phone call or see their email when it hits their inbox, but most people will see a text message on their cell phone.

Costs can vary by platform and by the amount of text messages you plan to send per month. Some platforms even allow you to segment your lists, letting you reach the proper audience with your message. However, keep in mind that not everyone may have a mobile device that allows them to receive text messages.

5. Use Social Media to Your Advantage

Rightly so, there is a fear of negative attention on social media, particularly related to a crisis. However, if you are following your crisis management playbook and utilizing a holding statement, social media can be advantageous. 

If your company has an active social media presence, use those accounts to release your statements when appropriate and provide any additional updates and information that you may want public. This allows all interested parties to view your news from an official source and can help you control the narrative. We recommend reading our blog about engaging employees on social media if your business has a less active social media presence.

What about comments?

There will always be a critic or two on social media that may leave a disparaging comment. Do not let emotions take over and refer to your company’s social media policy for correct procedures in responding to comments. 

If you don’t have a social media policy, here are some points to include:

  • Establish guidelines for social media use on official pages and by employees
  • Emphasize that confidential information is not disclosed
  • How to handle critical comments and warnings for comments that involve hate speech or vulgar language
  • Direction on who to contact if approached by the media

An incident can happen at any time, and it is best to be prepared for the worst. Taking these steps will help prepare your company, control the narrative, and maintain your company’s brand and reputation.

© 2023 TriNet Group, Inc. All rights reserved. This communication is for informational purposes only, is not legal, tax or accounting advice, and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance. TriNet is the single-employer sponsor of all its benefit plans, which does not include voluntary benefits that are not ERISA-covered group health insurance plans and enrollment is voluntary. Official plan documents always control and TriNet reserves the right to amend the benefit plans or change the offerings and deadlines.

This post may contain hyperlinks to websites operated by parties other than TriNet. Such hyperlinks are provided for reference only. TriNet does not control such web sites and is not responsible for their content. Inclusion of such hyperlinks on does not necessarily imply any endorsement of the material on such websites or association with their operators.

Additional Articles
ESAC Accreditation
We comply with all ESAC standards and maintain ESAC accreditation since 1995.
Certified PEO
A TriNet subsidiary is classified as a Certified Professional Employer Organization by the IRS.