Why Crisis Communications Matter to Your Business

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When an emergency strikes or markets become volatile, effective crisis communications can determine how well your business weathers the storm. Organizations with both domestic and international operations especially benefit from having a global communications plan, since it gives them the agility and speed required to engage a wide variety of stakeholders across different regions of the world.

Here's why such a plan is crucial to your business continuity, along with some tips on creating one at your company.

Why You Need an Emergency Communications Plan

No one likes contemplating a dire scenario. But the reality is that the larger your business is, the more likely it will eventually confront an emergency of some sort—whether that's a natural disaster, a potential data compromise, or another urgent event. When a crisis hits, it's essential for team members to be able to rapidly communicate with one another and for your business to stay in touch with its customers. For organizations with operations spanning multiple countries and time zones, this can be an especially complex undertaking.

Fortunately, cloud technology makes it easier for companies to keep critical systems and resources globally accessible in the event of a disaster. Cloud-based business communications solutions facilitate emergency communications, enabling key personnel to take necessary steps from any location in the world. These tools allow your organization to stay up and running, marshal a timely response, and ensure proper business continuity when disaster strikes.

Although modern technology can help businesses minimize disruption during an emergency, companies that also have a crisis communications plan in place fare better than the competition. They have standard processes and procedures that empower them to spring into action, which means they don't waste precious time determining how to proceed. In contrast, organizations that don't have this capacity to respond to dynamic circumstances may struggle as a result.

How a Global Communications Plan Protects Your Business

According to Forbes, an emergency communications plan is not only essential to your company's survival, but it's also critical to your employees' health and well-being. It also keeps your customers and other stakeholders properly informed, letting them know what to expect. By proactively and confidently sharing information, your company can convey an authoritative presence and avoid or minimize any potential negative impact on its brand or reputation.

Stakeholders will feel reassured when effective communication is taking place, trusting that your business is properly handling the situation and prioritizing their concerns. Time to resolution will also likely be shorter than it would be in an environment clouded by confusion, enabling you to resume normal business operations in less time. Ultimately, the impact to your bottom line will also likely be gentler as a result. This is why a crisis communications plan is considered an essential element of any organization's business continuity planning efforts.

Tips on Creating a Global Communications Plan

A global communications plan is a written set of guidelines that prepares your organization for an emergency. It establishes the specific actions your business will take in the event of an urgent situation, precisely who will be tasked with carrying them out, and how your company will communicate with both internal and external stakeholders. With a well-defined plan in hand, your organization can cut through the confusion and anxiety that typically emerge during a crisis and focus on responding right away.

Businesses that create an emergency communications plan before a disaster happens will find themselves in a much stronger position when compared with competitors that don't.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, it's wise to consider the audiences you need to reach in the event of an emergency when crafting such a plan. For example, the information you share will likely be different depending on whether you're communicating with employees, customers, suppliers, regulators, members of a local community, or the media. And if your organization has global operations, language and culture will also play important roles in your crisis communications plan. You'll also want to consider which communications channels are best for engaging these audiences, whether they include SMS, chat, social media, video conferencing, or something else.

Depending on your organization's requirements, you may choose to engage a business continuity planning professional to help you create an emergency communications plan. Whatever course of action you choose, it's important to remember that having a written plan isn't the final step. Even the most carefully designed crisis communications plan must be regularly reviewed and updated, particularly as your company evolves, or else it risks becoming out of date and less effective.

Prepare Your Business With a Global Communications Plan

When you already have a full plate keeping the business running as it is, it's tempting to put a project like an emergency communications plan on the back burner. After all, if there are no emergencies at the moment, it's easy to be lulled into a false sense of security and assume that nothing will threaten your business any time soon. And if the C-suite is skeptical about the value of a global communications plan, it may be challenging at first to secure their buy-in.

However, the need for effective crisis communications has never been greater than it is now. Organizations face a range of complex threats in today's globally connected environment, from cyberattacks to hurricanes to PR fiascos and beyond. Businesses that create an emergency communications plan before a disaster happens will find themselves in a much stronger position when compared with competitors that don't. A global communications plan will help your business ensure strong, continuous growth well into the future, navigating an uncertain world with agility and confidence.

Rose de Fremery
Rose de Fremery Contributor

Rose de Fremery is a New York-based writer and technologist. She is the former Managing Editor of The Social Media Monthly, the world’s first and only print magazine devoted to the social media revolution. Rose currently blogs about business IT topics including VoIP, UC, CRM, business innovation, and telework for Ziff-Davis as well as HP’s Tektonika program, HP Innovation Journal, HP Channel, Intel, and Vonage’s content marketing program.

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