10 Ways to Improve your Coordination with External Agencies – tip 1 create an inventory

Internally, all your plans are written and exercised, your people are trained and aware of their roles and your messages are prepared.  Maybe after your first exercise, you will appreciate that your organization can not respond or recover on its own. The following 10 tips will facilitate your coordination with external agencies.

Tip # 1 Create an inventory of all pertinent external agencies

Determine who your local and regional public authorities are. Create a database of these groups and contact information for all key individuals at these organizations. Document their potential impact on your plans.

Brainstorm with the business continuity planning team and draw up a list of all other external groups that your organization might have a relationship with during an emergency.

The following list should get your inventory started:

  • Volunteer or non-profit organizations – United Way, Red Cross, Salvation Army, St. John Ambulance, Radio Amateurs of      Canada (Amateur radio operators may maintain distance communications, and support local safety and relief efforts during or after disasters), Ontario Volunteer Emergency Response Team (OVERT) Inc.
  • Transportation –  local transit, taxi and bus companies
  • Health – public health agencies, poison control, hospitals and ambulance, local doctors and      clinics
  • Regulators – all specific to your industry
  • Insurance – brokers, insurance company, local adjuster
  • Police – local police, RCMP,  Provincial police, 911 center
  • Firefighters – local fire station and the fire chief
  • Local military –  local base
  • Coast guard
  • Governments – municipal, provincial and federal government representatives
  • Provincial Government agencies
  • Federal Government agencies
    • Centre for Emergency Preparedness and  Response – central coordinating point for public health security issues
    • CANUTEC – Canadian  Transport Emergency Center (Transport Canada) –  assists emergency response personnel in handling emergencies related to the transportation of dangerous goods
    • Counter-Terrorism  Coordination and Health Information Networks (Public Health Agency of Canada) – coordinates with stakeholders,  provides early warning surveillance and is an information resource on       health-related aspects of CBRN
    • Emergency Telecommunications (Industry Canada) – the lead role for emergency telecommunications in Canada.
    • Energy  Infrastructure Protection Division (Natural Resources Canada) formulates policies and provides advice to the       Minister on Canada’s critical energy infrastructure protection and emergency preparedness.
    • Environmental Emergencies Program (Environment Canada) – responsible for the prevention of, preparedness for, response to, and recovery from environmental emergencies.
    • Forest Fire in Canada – Canadian Forest Service (Natural Resources Canada) – involved in forest safety in Canada.
    • National Search and Rescue Secretariat – a liaison for search and rescue agencies and all partners involved in Canadian search and rescue
    • Natural Hazards and  Emergency Response Program (Natural Resources  Canada) reduces losses from natural hazards and enhances disaster response preparedness

Determine the role of each of these agencies during an event.  Outline what support they should be able to provide. Obtain at least one individual contact name, phone number and e-mail address for each of these agencies.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Ten –  Coordination with External Agencies DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 10 use automated notification

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #10 Use an automated notification system.

It is absolutely essential, pre-crisis, to establish notification systems that will allow you to rapidly reach your stakeholders using multiple modalities. Some may be on email constantly, others not so. Some of us receive our cell phone calls or messages quickly, while some do not. The ability to use multiple means of communication will increase the chances that the message will get to all stakeholders.

In particular, medium to large organizations should have an automated notification system. In the past, it was common to rely on “phone trees” and teams of callers to track people down. Modern technology offers many options available for purchase from multiple vendors— that can be set up to automatically to start contacting all stakeholders in your pre-established database and keep trying to reach them until they confirm (e.g., by pressing a certain number on a phone keypad) that the message has been received. This technology can be triggered with a single call or email.

Communication is the key to the proper handling of any crisis.  These ten tips should help the business continuity professional prepare a stronger crisis communication plan. A strong crisis communication plan will allow your people to properly manage the message and protect your organizations reputation.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 9 identify the Crisis Communications Team

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #9 Identify the Crisis Communications Team in the crisis communications plan

A specific team should be identified to serve as your organization’s Crisis Communications Team. Ideally, the team will be led by the organization’s CEO, with the firm’s top public relations executive and legal counsel as his or her chief advisers. If your in-house PR executive does not have sufficient crisis communications expertise, he or she may choose to retain an agency or independent consultant with that specialty. Other team members could be the heads of major organization divisions and may include finance, legal and operations.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 8 include waste disposal

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #8 Include waste disposal as part of your crisis communication planning

Do not forget waste disposal as part of your crisis communication planning. Information that could compromise the reputation, financial well-being or security of the organization needs to be properly handled.  Include a shredder in the crisis communications kit.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 7 Include a Media Crisis Plan

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #7 Include a media crisis plan

In a crisis, the media can be your friend. A media crisis plan provides guidelines for how to leverage the media in a crisis rather than
struggling with it. Someone must be tasked with taking the names and phone numbers of reporters, finding out their deadlines and ensuring phone calls are returned. Media lines should be written that indicate that you want to cooperate and provide accurate information. Your media crisis plan will help you deal with heavy media enquiry pressure.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 6 Create a Crisis Communications Kit

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #6 Create a crisis communications kit

The following documents should be included in any crisis communications kit, in paper and digital form. Pencils, lined paper and a manual typewriter should be available.

  1. A list of the members of the crisis communication team each with two back-ups
  2. Contact information for key officers, spokesperson(s), and crisis management team members
  3. Fact sheets on the company, each division, each physical location, and each product offered (Photos should also be included)
  4. Profiles and biographies for each key manager in your company
  5. Copies of your company, division and product logos, your press release format and the scanned in signature of your CEO
  6. Pre-approved scripts answering key questions that have been generated in advance to respond to risks identified in the risk evaluation (Included in these scripts should be the words used to say “we don’t have that information yet, but will let you know as soon as it becomes available”)
  7. Contact information for each of your key media contacts both locally, nationally, and if appropriate, key financial press and analysts
  8. Contact information for your  appropriate political, regulatory, and union leaders
  9. Contact information for any Public Relations firm which may be contracted to provide specialized crisis communication services or back-up the crisis communications team

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 5 Designate a trained spokesperson

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #5 Designate appropriate company spokesperson(s) in the crisis communications plan and ensure that they are trained.

Within each team, there should be individuals who are the only ones authorized to speak for the organization in times of crisis. The CEO should be one of those spokespersons, but not necessarily the primary spokesperson. The fact is that some chief executives are brilliant business people but not very effective in-person communicators. The decision about who should speak is made after a crisis breaks — but the pool of potential spokespersons should be identified and trained in advance.

Not only are spokespersons needed for media communications, but for all types and forms of communications, internal and external, including on-camera, at a public meeting, at employee meetings, etc. Designate each type of spokesperson in the plan and provide spokesperson training.  Stakeholders perception is key. It is your responsibility to ensure that messages are not misunderstand or misinterpreted Spokesperson training will enable the spokesperson team to be ready to respond in a way that optimizes the response of all stakeholders.

All employees must be informed that any media inquiries must be directed to the designated spokesperson team. No one else should speak with the press.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 4 Test Notification system

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #4 Test the crisis notification mechanism.

The crisis communications plan must be included the exercise schedule.  It is also important to randomly test the crisis notification mechanism every two or three weeks to ensure that the messages are being received and understood.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 3 Define your Scope

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavour.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #3 Define the scope of the crisis communications plan

If you have conducted a comprehensive risk assessment you will have discovered a large number of risks that could destroy your organization but not physically impact your people, information, equipment or facilities. A corporate crisis communication plan will include these risks and will be invoked much more often than a business continuity or response plan.

If your organization does not have a corporate crisis communication plan, you may want to limit the scope of the crisis communication plan associated with the business continuity management program. Define the set of risks to which it will respond or limit its use to the activation of the emergency operations centre (EOC).

Begin planning crisis communication early in your program as an independent project. The risk evaluation and Business Impact Analysis should be designed to provide information for the crisis communication plan.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

10 Ways to Improve your Crisis Communications – tip 2 engage corporate communications

Emergency preparedness and response plans save your people, business continuity plans save your operations, crisis communication plans save your reputation.  Together, they can save your business. It is important to master crisis communication planning early in your business continuity program. These ten tips will help you to get a handle on this important endeavor.

Before you begin, you need to understand where crisis communication fits into your organization.  Crisis communication is an integral part of a business continuity program but it is also a component of public relations and enterprise risk management.

Tip #2  Corporate communications must be involved in crisis communication planning

Corporate communications is to crisis communications planning what Information Technology is to disaster recovery planning. Exclude them at your peril.  A strong communications team may want to lead the initiative. The business continuity professional can provide timelines, guidance, auditing and exercise opportunities. Ensure that the crisis communication plan covers the four key communication lines: internal, external, media and stakeholders.

(For more information on DRI’s professional practices please read Professional Practice Nine – Crisis Communications DRII Professional Practices June 1, 2012 Version 1)

‘When planning for war, I have always found plans to be useless, but planning to be invaluable.’ General Eisenhower

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