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Continuous Learning within Crisis Communication

by Dan Simms, on Aug 20, 2020 11:01:47 PM

Instructor in training class with students

Communication today has never been more accessible. Within a matter of seconds, we can send a message across the globe. In that case, why is it so hard to get crisis communications right?

Every incident I have been involved with; either an exercise or in real life, communications always comes up as a learning point. 

Approving Incident Communications

Approval processes are usually too slow in a crisis, with precious time wasted getting the messages out to the right people.

To help mitigate this, make sure that you document the approval process and train the individuals involved. It’s also helpful to create pre-approved communications for common scenarios, to help you go faster in the event of a disaster.

With Klaxon, you can create pre-approved template messages to send out within a matter of seconds. Incredibly easy to set up, this function also allows you to set up multiple templates for different teams using Klaxon. 

Want different templates for your Business Continuity and IT teams? No problem. 

Furthermore, Klaxon allows you to set up an approval workflow too. This means that certain groups of people can add communications into Klaxon and see another group of people approve them. Simple and easy. 

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Acknowledging The Incident

One of the most common problems that crop up in a crisis is not acknowledging an incident quickly enough. In the absence of this, well-meaning individuals often go off and start ‘doing their own thing’. This lack of coordination can have a detrimental impact on recovery time since disparate groups of people working on the recovery can pull in different directions. 

Often the delay in acknowledging an incident is because teams want to answer questions like ‘what is the size of the impact?’, ‘who/what will be impacted?’ and ‘when will it be back to normal again?’ before sending out the communications.

We found the best way to mitigate this is to ‘nudge the culture in the right direction’ by training people to acknowledge incidents quickly, even if you’re not sure about the size and scale of the event.

Klaxon helps organisations in this area by allowing template holding messages to be sent out quickly in the event of an emerging incident. For example:

“We’re aware of an incident on-site, and we are assessing the facts. We will contact you with further information and instructions as soon as possible. Please do not speak with the media/post on social media at this time.”

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Be Clear About Who Is Responsible For Issuing Communications

So, who within the team should be sending out emergency communications? You may think the answer is obvious; however, it’s quite often overlooked. Most eyes will turn to the top of the chain but, when there’s even confusion there, it’s only a matter of time until the chaos spreads across the business. 

The first step to avoiding this is to create a RACI matrix for all of the people involved in the process, plus interested parties/stakeholders, to help you understand who is responsible and accountable.

Once you’ve agreed on responsibilities, you must provide training to ensure that this is locked in. Running a tabletop/mock incident exercise is an excellent way of testing this, and there are several excellent third party providers that you can work with to do this (please get in touch, if you’d like a recommendation).

Klaxon, through its role-based access security (RBAC), allows you to allocate specific functionality to whoever needs it. This includes templates, which can be easily assigned to particular roles, giving you an incredible amount of flexibility and control.

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Sending Out Updates

Have you ever been bombarded with communications to the extent that you switch off and stop paying attention? As a result, did you miss an important notification?

In a world where it’s almost impossible to avoid a text, call or email, it’s essential to consider how you are communicating to your team. If there’s too much noise, people will be less likely to engage. 

Ask yourself which communication channel is likely to get through.

If the incident in question has impacted your internal IT systems (such as a cyber-incident), then sending the notification using a channel that doesn’t rely on your IT systems is sensible. For example, if your email system is down, then send the notification using the Klaxon Smartphone/Tablet app.

Do you always need to push a message out for people to have the latest facts? For smaller updates, just updating the message on a central web dashboard can be beneficial, helping to reduce the noise while keeping people in the loop.

Another key learning point from our experience is that the timing between updates can often be variable. It’s useful to agree on the update timescales for different categories of incidents up front, to ensure that updates can be issued regularly. 

Klaxon allows you to set the next update time when you send out a communication, and it will remind you to issue an update, helping to keep you on track. Updates are a useful method of assisting people in staying safe and productive as the situation changes. If you’re experiencing a critical emergency, such as a terrorist incident, updates can help you ensure people have the latest safety information. 

Two-way communication is critical, too, allowing you to quickly discover whether your people are impacted by an emergency or not.

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End Of The Incident 
 
It goes without saying that when the crisis is over, you need to let everyone know. The best way to do this is to continue using the same method of communication used throughout the crisis (if multiple methods have been used, then stick with the most recent form of communication).
 
When an incident is closed in Klaxon, an update communication is automatically issued, and the notification on the web dashboard is turned green for three hours, to show the incident is over.
 
The two-way communication feature in Klaxon can also be used after an incident has been closed, to let the administrator know that there’s still a residual problem.
 
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Be Ready For Whatever Happens Today

Klaxon helps to keep people safe, informed and productive during an emergency, major incident or other disruption. We support you to issue timely and relevant notifications.

Schedule a demo today to see how our platform can solve your challenges to connect any audience to important events as soon as they happen.

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Topics:CommunicationBest PracticesEmergency CommunicationsCrisis CommunicationsContinuous LearningLearning