When Lightning Strikes!
The Newsletter for Ready Rating Members
October 2016

Engaging Stakeholders during an incident

Trust is the foundation of relationships. When your organization faces an emergency, communications (or the lack thereof) to your employees, customers, and other stakeholders can support or erode that foundation. Protect your organization’s reputation and relationships by being prepared to communicate in a crisis.

In an event, you need to know who to communicate to and how and when to do so. This requires preplanning. Make sure your emergency response plans have a communication component so you will know how to respond to each risk your organization faces. Essential components of a crisis communication plan include:

Stakeholders: Identify the individuals and public or private groups your organization interacts with. Internal stakeholders include employees, volunteers, members of the board of directors, etc. External stakeholders include customers, suppliers, service providers, vendors, public and regulatory authorities, and the media. Think about what information each group would need to know from you during a crisis and what you would need to know from them.

Spokesperson: Identify a single individual or small team that will handle dissemination and receipt of information from stakeholders.

Strategy: Transparency and timeliness of communications are critical during an incident. Plan in advance what and how you are going to communicate with internal and external stakeholders, including alternate ways of accessing and sharing information. General statements, also called holding statements, can be prepared in advance and are released to stakeholders during an incident before detailed facts come in. For example, an organization operating in an area affected by a hurricane would release: “Our thoughts are with those who are in harm’s way and those responding to the storm. We have implemented our crisis plan and will be supplying additional information as it becomes available.” Review and revise these statements on a regular basis to make sure they remain timely and appropriate.

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Managing Finances in a Crisis

Crises come in many forms and require you to take a range of preparation steps depending on the event. But every crisis impacts your organization’s finances and, for this reason, financial preparedness is a critical part of emergency preparedness. Measures you take in advance and during an incident will help your organization weather the crisis and thrive afterward.

Effectively managing finances in a crisis starts well before anything happens. Consider the following preplanning activities:

Insurance: Review your insurance coverage. Have a discussion with your broker to make sure you have the appropriate coverage for your organization. Property, general liability, and professional liability are some common insurance policies businesses and other organizations carry.

Business disruption insurance is a key policy that is often overlooked. It covers the loss of income that a business suffers during a disaster, the costs associated with temporary displacement, and can help with continuing expenses. When contracting for this type of insurance you will evaluate your risks and determine how much, if any, disruption coverage is needed. So even if you don’t end up purchasing the insurance you can get insight into the risks your organization faces. Utility disruption insurance is also available.
Before an incident it is also important to understand the claims process for the policies you carry and prepare accordingly. Discuss with your insurance broker the documents and the evidence you will need to provide.   

Financial Safety Net: Establish or review your financial safety net. Understand your cash flow (incoming and outgoing) at least two quarters out. If possible, maintain a minimum two month operating supply of cash. This supply may need to be more, or less, depending on your organization.
Consider establishing a line of credit for emergency use. This can be a new line of credit, a credit card exclusively for use in an emergency, or a portion of an existing line of credit.

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