Effective crisis management starts with a comprehensive crisis communication plan to address the unexpected when it comes to your employees, customers, citizens, or the public at large. With many factors in play during a time of crisis, an outdated crisis management plan simply won’t suffice. Not only does an inefficient strategy put public safety in jeopardy, but poor execution can also result in long-term damage to the organization responsible.
A surefire way to stay ahead of any hazards is with omnichannel digital communications that allow you to reach a wide audience in a very short amount of time – with little effort. Before you read on, it may be worth your while to explore platforms that allow you to send text messages and emails, post safety messages to social media channels, automate public safety alerts, notify emergency services, collect valuable data analytics, and more.
No matter which path you choose, when the following seven steps have been accounted for, you can expect to see your emergency responses increase in effectiveness and efficiency.
1. Foster trust among stakeholders
A failure to mitigate crises quickly diminishes any confidence your organization has previously established – and makes it even harder to earn trust back. By demonstrating that you have a comprehensive crisis communications plan at the ready, stakeholders will not only have more faith in your capabilities to protect them but also understand the measures that will be taken when and if a crisis occurs.
Additionally, this type of continuity across stakeholders allows more people to take action should a hazard communication be issued.
2. Better prepare for future crises
While avoiding disaster is always the goal, unfortunately, it’s not always possible. So, we must look at every crisis as an opportunity to learn and adapt. When it comes to public safety or security measures within an individual organization, refining your crisis management plan is paramount. But, where to begin?
Start with a post-crisis audit.
By reviewing the actions you took during a previous incident, no matter how small, you’ll be able to pinpoint where latencies exist, which communication tools are needed, where resources can be better utilized, where gaps in communication can be shortened, and which channels are most advantageous for keeping every stakeholder informed – and therefore safer as a result.
Continuously refine your plan.
Your crisis management plan should be updated each year to account for emerging technologies, staffing changes, outdated software, new stakeholders, and any adjustments that are bound to happen throughout the year.
3. Remain compliant as an organization
When your crisis communications are digitized, you can rest easier knowing that nothing will get lost to pitfalls of traditional record-keeping, like paper logs, multiple email chains, and in-person meetings with unreliable handwritten notes. With organizations beholden to safety and compliance standards, a platform capable of collecting and retaining this information – including all bulk automated text messages sent and actioned on – is critical. You can read more tips on how to stay compliant in our blog post.
4. Target key locations quickly and efficiently
If you choose to leverage a digital platform that offers geolocation capabilities, you can send automated messages to contacts that are linked to a specific location. This use of your contact data will help you preemptively prioritize locations and set automated text messages to release once the selected areas are affected.
This ability to geofence an area makes for quick emergency notifications during floods, wildfires, or other natural disasters. Alternatively, geofencing can be used to send notifications to event attendees, commercial properties, shoppers, and more.
5. Utilize multiple channels to maximize reach
The ways in which we send and receive public communications have shifted drastically over the past couple of decades. Crisis communications can no longer be left to a television news channel, AM radio station, or the constant refreshing of a web page. Following consumer patterns, we see more personalized technology taking center stage.
To keep your crisis communications aligned with the future of engagement, you need to be everywhere – all the time. Social media is one of the most powerful ways to get engagement – you can use social media scheduling tools to get your content posted on social media at the most engaging times (learn more and opt for free Hootsuite alternatives here). With smartphones in the hands of most people, the best way to do this is via SMS messaging:
The power of SMS/MMS/text messages
Whether it’s a standard text or an MMS message (meaning your text includes a piece of viewable media such as an image or video), leveraging SMS messages is the clearest path to engaging with your audience. In fact, research has shown that when you send a text you can expect to see open rates as high as 98%, which is what you want during a time of crisis.
When it comes to taking action and eliciting responses, text messaging that’s paired with a personalized landing page will help you earn response rates of up to 88%. This means you’ll want to look for a communications platform that enables the use of webhooks so you can receive and parse critical information in real-time via web pages featuring dynamic forms.
6. Learn from every stakeholder
Emergency services rely on accurate, detailed information to perform their jobs and respond appropriately to the situation at hand. That means you’ll want to gather insights from as many stakeholders as possible to ensure that public safety messages are directed to the right teams – at the right time – with the most pertinent information.
An easy way to do this is via feedback from surveys or questionnaires. I.e., for local governments, this would include information pulled from citizens, community leaders, and internal response team members. With a mass texting service, you can quickly and easily send out links to dynamic forms hosted on web pages. These survey requests can also be facilitated via multiple channels, including email and social media posts, to get the most traction.
All of which can be handled by an omnichannel communications platform.
7. Lean on smart reporting to ensure the best approach
In addition to learning from previous incidents and the hazard communications that may have followed, a digital crisis communications strategy allows you to leverage actual data analytics and real-time insights. This includes understanding:
Whether messages were delivered
If recipients engaged with the message
How the recipients used the information provided
Where the public safety alert was most effective
Which channels saw the highest engagement
Make a plan, pick a platform, and keep up with your crisis communications
At Whispir, we’re safety agnostic. That means we want to make sure that organizations everywhere are prepared for the worst – no matter which platform they choose. Through these seven steps, hopefully, you have a better understanding of why a comprehensive crisis management plan is essential to keeping your stakeholders and organization safe. If you have any questions regarding your own hazard communications, send a message to our team and we’ll be more than happy to help.