Pre-prepared emergency communication messages

Your Emergency Communication Plan is a vital element of your Business Continuity Plan.

If you were to suffer a disaster, would you rather have an effective recovery that is poorly communicated to staff, customers, stakeholders and the press....

Or a poor recovery - but one that is handled professionally and communicated well?

When I think of good example of incidents, they are always the ones that are well managed and communicated.

Even a small incident will require a number of different messages for different parties, with different media to deliver those messages and potentially, several different spokespeople.

In the event of a disaster, these messages may be your only voice externally and internally, so they will be scrutinised. It is important that they are informative and accurate. You do not want to add the pressure of writing, proof-reading and checking these messages at the time of a disaster – it is better to prepare some template messages that can be used with only minor adjustments for the specific incident you are facing.

What can be pre-prepared?

To create your pre-prepared messages make create a list of the potential incident impacts that you might face, the different groups you will need to communicate with and chose the best channel for that method. Then assign that message to the person most suitable to write it and have that message pre-approved.

As we have discussed before, it is better to reduce the large number of different incident scenarios into the small number of impacts they might have such as: IT systems down or staff not being able to access the office (for whatever reason).

Incident impact types:
  • IT systems outage
  • No access to the office
Communication groups:
  • Staff
  • Crisis Management Team
  • Your customers
  • Your suppliers
  • The local community
  • The press
Relevant information:
  • What has occurred
  • How is it being handled and when do we expect the incident to be resolved (throughout the incident)
Channel:
  • A senior point of contact to speak to the press
  • Email / SMS / Social media / telephone

 

General messaging advice


Keep the messages relevant, accurate concise and regular. Clarity is important so test the messages internally to be sure there is no ambiguity in the wording which might cause confusion.

Where to store the messages


There is no benefit to having pre-prepared messages if they are all saved on systems that may be affected by an incident.

Some messages may be best saved in your "Battle box" with your other materials held for business continuity. Others can be stored in your Mass Notification System or with an external email service provider. Statements to external parties may be best held by an external PR agency.

Potential incident

Audience

Channel

Spokesperson

Written by

Approved by

IT systems outage Staff Mass notification service or SMS & Email COO Business Continuity Manager COO
IT systems outage Crisis Management Team Mass notification service or SMS & Email CEO Business Continuity Manager COO
IT systems outage Your customers Mass notification service or SMS & Email COO Business Continuity Manager COO
IT systems outage Your suppliers Mass notification service or SMS & Email COO Business Continuity Manager COO
IT systems outage The local community MStatement to the press, Website, social media CEO Head of Corporate Comms COO
IT systems outage The press Statement to the press, Website, social media COO Head of Corporate Comms COO

 

For information on how to create your own Mass Notification Service – download our guide here

 

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