Superstorm Sandy: Approaches to Consider for Emergency and Citizenship Communications

Corporate communicators may be wondering how to support either emergency communications to employees/customers, or humanitarian efforts in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.

Here’s a quick list of top approaches to consider:


1. Ensure employees that their welfare is of utmost importance to company.  Consider sharing key official information to keep food/water safe and to manage mold in flood-affected areas:

2. Connect with local authorities’ information systems to receive official notification of resumed services, power, and/or communications

3. Conduct “roll-call” with Business Continuity/Risk/Security teams to ensure there is an effort to establish headcount, critical needs and ability to continue operations

  • Non-affected areas should provide senior leadership with information on how they might be able to support
  • Ensure that employees know where to turn for ongoing information – voicemail messages, website, social media, etc.

4. Consider contingencies and work-arounds to support employee situation (with Business Continuity/Risk/Security teams) – including the possibility to gather/operate out of alternate locationsIf accurate and appropriate (e.g., critical services): Provide broad reassurance that company will consider the best ways to support short-term service resumption and get business back to normal in the long-term

  • Provide support and frequent communications to affected locations/operations, including information about contingencies to restore services
  • If alternate locations are operational, consider using social media and other vehicles to alert customers/consumers and also to set expectations

5. Consider the potential of crime/looting/fraud and work with local authorities to help ensure employee/customer safety.

6. Correct misinformation as appropriate

7. If company is faced with death or major injuries: Express sympathy; consider providing grief counseling and employee assistance program support


1. Consider appropriate relief efforts:

  • Involve employees in helping to determine adjustments to make on behalf of customers and communities, including special price breaks/giveaways for a set period of time; a donation of key relief materials; free services, etc.
  • While media is focused on the storm and effects; social media may be the best way to spread information about these efforts

2. Consider if company should conduct philanthropy/humanitarian efforts:

  • If the company is set to endorse a particular charity effort, make sure these are properly vetted – fraud is common
  • Offer employees an opportunity to donate directly to the relief efforts, including a potential company match
  • Also involve employees in efforts to spread the word and engage in community support

Ketchum’s Issues & Crisis Specialty Team can help customize approaches for clients in need. Contact [email protected] or [email protected] for more information.