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We know PRSA members have been asking how they might reach out and help those who are being affected by storms and natural disasters across the country. One important way is to go to MyPRSA communities and let colleagues know what resources you may have and services you can provide such as an internet or phone connection, help with writing, outreach or other communications activities.

We’ve also been getting requests for practical tips on how you can prepare and make sure processes are in place if a storm is heading your way. We will continue to focus on these questions in the coming months, but here are a few suggestions to get started on updating your crisis plan:

Make sure that the plan includes contingencies for:

  • Relocating an office.
  • A recovery process for technical issues.
  • Making sure that contact information for all members of the core response team is up-to-date.
  • Updates regarding the possibility of revising work from home policies.
  • A rollout plan and timetable for re-opening your work location.

To ensure efficiency and consistency across the organization response teams should include representatives from corporate communications, risk management, security, building services, customer advocates, HR, legal, investor relations and IT.

Accounting for the safety of employees is of course the primary concern following a natural disaster. Companies can employ a variety of methods including:
  • Designated call-in numbers.
  • Department phone trees.
  • Asking employees to use Facebook or other social media outlets to let you know they are safe or need assistance.
  • Working with HR to find ways to provide social, medical, emotional and financial help to those in need.

Throughout the crisis, the communication department’s primary focus is to calm, educate and advise team members, customers and media about the impact the storm has had on company operations, and how the organization is accommodating customers and employees. All public statements should be given by designated spokespeople.

PRSA will continue to reach out to our large community of professionals to provide advice, best practices and lessons learned to help all be better prepared for potential storms that impact your employees and organization.

Over the years, PRSA members have contributed articles about experiences they’ve been through and how they’ve managed with natural disasters.

Here are a few from our archives:

Hurricane Katrina: Looking Back, Moving Forward

Public Relations Tactics

http://apps.prsa.org/SearchResults/view/517/105/Hurricane_Katrina_Looking_back_moving_forward

Forces of Nature: Florida PR Pros Tested During Destructive 2004 Hurricane Season

Public Relations Tactics

http://apps.prsa.org/Intelligence/Tactics/Articles/view/6C-010506/101/Forces_of_Nature_Florida_PR_Pros_Tested_During_Des?source=article_8537

Pioneering PR Pros Vow to Rebuild New Orleans and the Profession One Day at a Time

The Public Relations Strategist

http://apps.prsa.org/intelligence/TheStrategist/Articles/view/844/102/The_pride_and_the_passion_Pioneering_PR_pros_vow_t

Disaster Recovery: PR Teams Use Networks to Gather, Share Haiti News

Public Relations Tactics

http://apps.prsa.org/Intelligence/Tactics/Articles/view/8537/1008/Disaster_recovery_PR_teams_use_networks_to_gather#.WbJzMv_yt0s

Encounter With Disaster: Looking Back at Crucial Elements in Tsunami Relief Efforts

Public Relations Tactics

http://apps.prsa.org/Intelligence/Tactics/Articles/view/6C-110514/101/Encounter_With_Disaster_Looking_back_at_crucial_el?source=article_8537

On Deadly Ground — Examining the Media’s Tsunami Coverage

Public Relations Tactics

https://apps.prsa.org/Intelligence/Tactics/Articles/view/6C-020512/101/On_Deadly_Ground_Examining_the_Media_s_Tsunami_Cov

 

We’re also including below links to additional resources that can help during preparation for, and the aftermath of, natural disasters:

Donate to the Red Cross

Fema

Prepare Your Organization for a Hurricane PlayBook

Red Cross

Hurricane Safety

AON

Business Continuity Checklist: A Primer for Hurricane Planning & Response

Ready Business Hurricane Tool Kit

www.flash.org/readybusiness/downloads/508-Compliant-Hurricane-Toolkit.pdf

Hurricane Preparedness Business Checklist

www.agilityrecovery.com/assets/SBA/hurricaneprepsba.pdf

Reduce Hurricane Damage to Businesses

https://disastersafety.org/hurricane/reduce-hurricane-damage-to-businesses/