Weathering the Storm: Is Your Hurricane Communications Plan Strong Enough?

While summer ushers in plenty of sunny days, family vacations and extended school breaks — it also brings with it a less-welcomed moment in time — hurricane season. And although the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a “near-normal” season for 2019, with two to four major hurricanes, the landfall of Hurricane Barry earlier this month is a glaring reminder that the season, which runs through November, is already upon us.

Hurricane Preparedness

For most businesses, hurricane preparation boils down to the essentials: securing buildings, ensuring food and water supplies are on hand and, oftentimes, allowing employees enough time to get to safety when a disaster strikes.

But for those who lead many destinations and properties, there is no leaving town, there is only a critical need to proactively communicate with guests, employees, local officials, law enforcement, media, and other stakeholders to ensure you’re receiving and disseminating the proper information, all while protecting your guests, and reputation, in the process.

If you’re located on the Atlantic or Gulf coast, you’ve probably got a basic plan in place, but does it hold up to hurricane force winds? We’ve compiled a quick checklist of things to keep in mind to ensure your issues and crisis plan holds water BEFORE any flooding begins…

1. Make sure employees know their roles and how to activate against your action plan quickly 

2. Create and approve content now, so your team is prepared and aligned on what information they need to share with stakeholders before and after a hurricane

3. Have a contingency plan for how you will get information out if communications are down, both to the public and to employees

4. Update your (digital) rolodex to make sure you have up-to-date contact information for local officials, emergency responders and key media on hand, including satellite phone numbers

5. Outline a cascade of criteria to help determine how and when you’ll pivot from relief, to recovery, to “open for business” after a storm

Interested in learning more about how your destination’s plan stacks up against the best-in-class? Take our Hurricane Prep Plan Assessment.

If you feel you’re not ready to weather the storm, Ketchum’s travel and issues and crisis specialists can move fast to build out the processes and relationships needed to protect your reputation (and ensure visitor satisfaction) before the next big storm. Connect with me here to learn more.