The recent power outages in Auckland, caused by fires at Transpower’s Penrose Substation are a timely reminder for businesses of the necessity of a crisis management plan.
Around 85,000 homes and thousands of businesses and people were affected by the power outages, which lasted up to 48 hours in some areas.
Many businesses had to close completely, unable to service customers without electricity for light, heat, refrigeration, processing transactions and security.
A flexible, up-to-date crisis management plan is essential in time of crisis, in particular communicating with those impacted by the plan, including employees, customers, suppliers and partners quickly and efficiently.
It’s important to not only practice this plan, but train your staff so everyone knows what to do in a crisis, when power, telcos and transport could be impacted.
Email, landlines, mobile phones and SMS should all be considered in your communications strategy in anticipation of downed power lines and power outages.
According to this study* following Hurricane Katrina, SMS has emerged as an effective method for communication in event of crisis.
The study concluded: “Hurricane Katrina changed the way that organisations deal with crises, because traditional methods of technology unexpectedly failed to work. Text messaging or SMS — short message service — emerged as a successful means of keeping people aware of what was happening.”
The study found crisis management plans should include traditional forms of media such as radio, email and landlines, as well as mobile phones, SMS and in some cases satellite phones.
“Today with a mix of traditional and new communication tactics, organisations can provide much more comprehensive crisis communications.”
This post from the international business continuity information portal Continuity Central says SMS has proven to be reliable method of communication, even in severe incidents.
“Most cell phones now accept SMS messages, and because they require less bandwidth, the ability to send SMS messages is often available when a voice call is not. These channels continue to be overlooked and under-utilised in emergencies.”
While we always hope for the best, businesses need to recognise that crises can and will occur, and prepare and train for the worst to reduce the impact on their staff, partners, products and services, customers and reputation.
Contact us today and discuss your business and how SMS fits into your crisis communications management plan.