red phones hanging in the air emergency communication plan

6 steps to creating an emergency communication plan

Having an emergency communication plan is essential for your business. The plan can be tailored to cover a range of scenarios such as adverse weather, IT failure, or data breach. It should be kept simple and updated regularly.

Having a plan in place gives assurance and credibility to your business. It should also be part of your overall disaster recovery plan, to make sure your business is able to remain operational in a crisis.

Here are 6 steps you can follow to create an effective emergency communication plan for your business.

1. Clarify your purpose

One of the first steps in creating an emergency communications plan is to be clear on what key services will need to be recovered. Do you provide a support service to a number of businesses or hospitals for example? Or is your plan simply a document to provide clear instructions to staff on what to do in an emergency situation? It may, of course, need to cover both- but you need to work out what you require. An emergency communications plan defines the role an organization plays in a crisis.

2. Engage senior staff

When you put an emergency communication plan together you need buy-in from senior staff. The plan needs to be endorsed and implemented- in fact, it needs to be taken seriously, so having the support of senior management is critical. Ultimately if something goes wrong the buck stops with the boss, but each employee has a responsibility to know and understand the role they play in the plan.

3. Keep it simple

One of the most important things to do with emergency communication plans is keeping them simple. You need clear directions on what do in a crisis which includes identifying the person in charge. Employees need simple instructions so they are clear on what they need to do to be effective. Having a unified communication system in place can make it easy to quickly contact all of your employees quickly and efficiently.

4. Maintain a contacts list

It is vital to have a current contacts list for your emergency communication plan. This includes phone numbers and emails for staff and must be regularly updated. Home phone information must also be stored for senior and business critical specialists so they can be contacted in a crisis. Allocate a responsible person to collate and maintain this information. If it needs to be activated, have a plan for how to reach your employees in the easiest way possible. Be clear on who needs to be contacted and when in that process. You will also need a media plan so you are clear on what gets communicated to the press and when- and also by whom.

5. Test the plan

Testing an emergency communication plan is a must. This gives everyone an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the plan itself and to prepare themselves for a situation should it arise. Various scenarios can be trialed such as failure of the IT system, a power outage, cybersecurity incident, adverse weather conditions, and more. Following incidents such as 9/11 a business should also be prepared for the unexpected and be able to adapt quickly to meet an emergency scenario.

6. Learn from experience

There is always something to learn from either testing the emergency communications plan or a real-life situation. This is vital as it enables the plan to be strengthened from the experience of using it. Even small things can make a big difference the next time the plan is activated so do encourage people to reflect on the experience during a debrief.

Emergency communication plans are vital for businesses and organizations. Contact your managed IT services provider for help creating and implementing an effective strategy that will enable your organization to operate in an emergency.