10 Ways Communicators Can Prepare for Hurricane Irene

Prepare today for Hurricane Irene. Photo credit: Wikipedia

As we prepare for Hurricane Irene this weekend, my best wishes are with all of you.  An impending natural disaster is never a welcome event, but it does present the opportunity to refine and improve your company’s plan for responding to emergencies.  I believe you should be prepared whether you have a small business or are an independent consultant, like myself.

Here are some quick recommendations for today, if you have not already taken these steps:

1. Visit Ready.Gov and review the recommendations for disaster planning steps for business.  No matter what size your business is, you should have some kind of plan for mitigating the impact of emergencies, and this is an excellent place to start.

2.  Have a quick meeting to draft or review your crisis communications response plan, updating contact information and making any revisions that may be needed.  Need some tips?  Read my post on how to create a simple crisis communications plan for your business. If you don’t already have a plan, you won’t have time to make an elaborate one, so use my tips to keep it simple for today, and revise it later, as needed. This might be a good time to schedule your post-disaster response meeting (perhaps in a week or two) to discuss what went well and what needs to be adjusted.

3. Charge your cell phone, lap top, phone, and portable video cameras before there is a threat of power outage.

4. In the event of thunderstorms, be sure your PCs and Macs are powered off as storms begin.  Protect your vulnerable electronics from power surges and outages.

5. Turn off your auto-tweeting and auto-blog posting programs scheduled for this weekend.  During a disaster is not the time to promote your business, or really post on anything that is not related to this impending emergency.  Your business may be perceived as uncaring.

HOWEVER, if you do have value to add as a business to help people prepare and respond that is related to your brand, by all means, do!  For example, a realtor could provide quick tips for securing a home against high winds or responding to basement flooding.

6. Keep tabs on what is trending on Twitter among your preferred media and reporter contacts.  You may be able to help them with a breaking story.  For example, during a neighborhood emergency, I was able to provide a journalist with updates and a photograph on his request once (because I was a in a safe position to do so), which was helpful in building a positive relationship with the paper.

7.  Got fans on Facebook?  Update them about what your business is doing to prepare for Hurricane Irene, or post videos or photographs of your business during or after the storm’s impact… BUT only if safe to do so!

8. Is  your business participating in good works before, during, or after Hurricane Irene?  Be prepared to share the story.  If your business is doing something to make a difference to help others (such as providing supplies, raising funds, or helping with clean up), document it with your camera or video camera, and find an appropriate way to let people know, and allow them to engage or participate, if that is a possibility.  This might be a good addition to your email newsletters and annual report (some good can come out of nearly every situation).

9. Use the Twitter hashtags #hurricane and #Irene BUT only for relevant and useful Twitter updates.  Using them for spam or self-promotion is unpardonable.

10. Being a good communicator is being a prepared communicator!  Take the common sense tips to prepare yourself and  your loved ones: such as creating a family disaster response plan; keeping a full tank of gas; packing a “go-bag;” gathering or stocking up on batteries, lanterns, radios, water, prescription and OTC medications, pet supplies, hygiene and santitation supplies, and non-perishable food; checking on neighbors; and evacuating, if advised.

Do you have more tips to share?  Help us all learn and improve our own plans by adding them to the comments.  My best and most positive thoughts are with all of you this weekend.

About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a public relations and marketing consultant, and owns Fletcher Prince (www.FletcherPrince.com). Follow Mary on Twitter @FletcherPrince.

Posted on August 26, 2011, in Public Relations Tips, Social Media Tips and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.


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