Extreme weather has been in the news for the last several weeks. Hurricanes, wildfires in California, and even sudden snowfall in places like Colorado have taken Americans by surprise. During times like these, communications professionals need to make plans for weather-related disasters.
There are several reasons for this. The first is that extreme weather affects all kinds of industries, even public relations. Businesses need to have a plan in place should something unexpected happen. The second is that PR professionals are in the business of communication. A consummate PR professional is equipped with the ability to spread the word about weather-related disasters and how to cope with them.
The first and most important thing is to be aware. Pay attention to weather forecasts. Good PR people are always a step ahead of the competition, watching for signs of new trends. The weather emergency scenario should be no exception to that tendency. Public relations professionals always need to have an ear to the ground about happenings that will impact the culture.
Secondly, make a plan. If a weather event affected your company, how would you handle it? Think about who you would need to contact. Consider what the practical effects might be. For example, would you lose water or power? Now apply these to your communications strategy. PR professionals transmit information loudly and clearly, and nowhere is that more important than when it comes to disaster communications.
Think about how to contact different stakeholders and communicate with them. Communication with employees and other insiders will mostly be done by phone and email. So will communication with media outlets like local news channels. However, it’s probably best to reach out to the general public via mass communications. In 2020, the easiest way to do that is via social media.
Finally, think about ways to find the good in the situation. Whenever there’s a disaster, there are also people helping. Shining a spotlight on them is a great way to help keep people’s spirits high even during a crisis. You can even use examples from your own organization. Sharing photos of your team volunteering at a food bank or shelter can help demonstrate how to help during a crisis to the rest of your network.
PR professionals need to be prepared for severe weather events. They’re responsible for creating a crisis management plan for their organization, as well as informing others about events and how to navigate them.