If you want to be able to quickly reach many people, for instance when a national emergency occurs, social media has great potential. Its user friendly and immediate use allows you to spread your notification to create a big oil spill of information, since you would expect an alert to be shared. You can also ask social media users to upload relevant information on their situation. Consider for example a fire or an attack. Reports and footage from people at the scene will help you determine your next move in resolving the crisis as soon as possible.
Spreading the word
Social media therefore is a highly effective tool to alarm people in case of a national disaster. However, depending on the situation, organisations may not want to spread news about an (internal) crisis to the world. With crisis communication over social media, you can quickly lose control over the way your message is shared, interpreted and responded to. Clearly this is not desirable when a selected group of employees need to be targeted.
In case of an internal emergency, it can be expected you have the contact data of all employees. This data, preferably segmented on location and other relevant criteria, allows you to send out notifications to those people directly affected. By using the fast and cost effective Push messaging via your company app, you can inform employees of a data outage, security breach or another situation which demands their immediate attention.
Targeted reach for internal alerts
If you don’t have a company app or if your target audience might not have an internet connection available, both social media and Push messaging will not suffice. In that case, sending out SMS is your most reliable option. As discussed in a CNN interview, “SMS is the base layer of database communications on phones. And because every system supports SMS, you can always rely on it as a minimum level of communication.” So, if you need to reach people in areas with minimum internet reach, if the internet connection might be compromised or when if audience may not have a smartphone, SMS is the way to go. Just like with social media, you can allow your receivers to reply with more information or questions if you enable replies.
Combining platforms in times of crisis
Instead of just relying on one communication tool, some say adding more channels is what you need to do to effectively reach your audience in a time critical situation. MultiBel is one of these companies to have implemented an alarm and crisis communication system with which organisations can immediately reach a large group of people with a single action. MultiBel does this via email, telephone (voice) and SMS, using the CM platform.
Another option to combine the strengths of multiple tools is Hybrid messaging. With Hybrid, you will send out cost effective Push messages to all people who have your app. If the receiver doesn’t have your app installed, or does not have an internet connection, our platform will automatically send the alert via SMS. This way, you’ll have maximum reach and minimum costs.
Crisis communication basics
Depending on your business and responsibilities, choose the communication tool that best suits the possible target audience(s) you might have to reach in a matter seconds. This means you need to anticipate any possible crisis that may occur, even those that seem unlikely to ever to happen. Preferably, have the contacts put in a CRM list that is ready to use in just one click.
Whether you choose SMS, Voice, Email, Push or Push with SMS fallback (Hybrid), the basics still apply. Be brief in your communications and be clear in the action you want the receiver to take. Mention the situation (eg. Fire with chemical fumes), explain the necessary steps (eg. 1. Close doors and windows, check on others around you, remain calm) and tell them where they can find more information (eg. turn on radio or tv). Of course, this example concerns a significant disaster, but the same principles apply to a less critical crisis like a power outage in your company.
1. Notify the receiver of the situation
2. Explain what steps need to be taken, in the correct order
3. Redirect them to a source of more information
Many organisations, including the Dutch government and MultiBel, already use our platform for alerts and crisis communication. Based on our experience, we are happy to tell you more and help you set up an effective crisis communication strategy with the appropriate tools for your risks and audience.