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Being Prepared: Emergency Communication Advice for Small Businesses

April 23, 2013

Business Advice for Entrepreneurs and Small Businesses


After visiting my son at Boston College last Thursday and Friday during the manhunt for the Boston Marathon Bombing suspects, I walked away from this great city with a new found respect for the organizations, institutions and politicians who delivered exceptional communication in the wake of the terror.

The stellar communication came in the form of multiple, up-to-date notices from Boston College to students and parents notifying them of emergency measures taken to keep students safe and their property secure. The frequent new conferences by Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick and Boston Police Chief Ed Davis kept a worried city informed and calm. The news media covered the story so well the streets of Boston were in fact empty when I left there late Friday afternoon. People heeded the stay inside warnings and it worked tremendously well.

Entrepreneurs faced with their own business crisis, even if the crisis isn’t as dire as the Boston Marathon Bombing incident, can take away a few valuable strategies from the actions of these individuals and organizations communicating public information during Boston’s crisis. Here are a few suggestions:

* Appoint a person within your business to be the point person to contact and answer media questions when emergencies arise. Identify the person before any incident occurs. Discuss what the position will entail and the corporate protocol the company will conduct and adhere to.

* Create an emergency communication policy. The policy should include specific methods to inform employees, customers, board members and other important individuals when an emergency or important situation arises that needs to shared. Create a contact list with phone numbers and email addresses of important individuals in advance so it is available as soon as a crisis occurs.

* Remember frequently updating your constituents and the public about an ongoing crisis is important. In a world where people look for and expect information immediately and consistently, it’s important to create a timetable for sending out communication on a regular basis during any crisis.

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