Manufacturing Companies: 3 Ways To Improve Your Crisis Communication
If an emergency struck your manufacturing company tomorrow, would your crisis management team—and the business as a whole—be equipped to respond? How effective would your crisis communications be in enabling a quick, streamlined recovery?
These questions aren’t merely conjecture; the threat of the next big crisis is always there. In fact, in a recent survey, 62 percent of respondents said their organization had activated its emergency communications plan at least once in the previous year.
In the manufacturing industry, effective crisis communications is particularly important, since your market is exposed to such a wide range of threats. Consider how Hurricane Sandy affected the New York and New Jersey manufacturing industry in 2013. According to a U.S. Department of Commerce study, manufacturing was one of the hardest-hit markets, with an estimated 10,000 separate facilities hurt by the storm. Those industrial organizations hit the hardest reported a variety of problems:
- Structural damage
- Loss of phone and internet
- Loss of power
- Standing flood water
- Excessive debris
In fact, the very nature of manufacturing makes your facilities and employees susceptible to various emergencies, due to factors that include the following:
- Facilities, assets and stakeholders located in disparate cities or even countries, each of which face different potential threats, such as severe weather, fire, political instability, crime and more
- A range of risks that are unique to manufacturing, such as chemical spills, equipment malfunction or certain employee injuries
- Difficulty in effectively reaching all employees during an emergency—particularly if they frequently move throughout the manufacturing facility
A single crisis can have an enormous impact on your organization, pose a threat to employees and, in some cases, even lead to closure. That’s why it’s important that manufacturers adopt effective crisis communication techniques. Here, we count down three ways to improve manufacturing crisis communications throughout your organization:
1. Don’t rely on vulnerable systems for manufacturing crisis communications.
As Hurricane Sandy demonstrated, many manufacturers experience a loss of power and internet during a crisis. Rather than relying on manual call trees, website announcements or other ineffective tactics, consider bringing your crisis communication into the 21st century by using a mobile app.
A crisis app provides employees with real-time alerts and notifications as an emergency occurs, even when the power is out. Workers can even access a secure link to relevant contact details, so they are never left wondering whom they should contact during the chaos of a crisis. In addition, they can download relevant information directly to their smartphone so it is accessible at all times, even if cellular networks fail.
As a result, communication is streamlined at every level. Employees are better equipped to respond appropriately, which can help to mitigate damage and even save lives. As the emergency evolves, your crisis team can also leverage the app to keep all stakeholders up-to-date, helping ensure an effective response. Make sure to have communication plans for the different stakeholders your organization caters to. For example, at a consumer products manufacturing plant, how the executive team is notified will probably look different than how the general public is notified of a crisis.
2. Digitize business continuity and incident response plans.
Fluidmaster provides a good example of how improved access to planning documents can optimize crisis communication in the manufacturing field. The wireless networking manufacturer digitized its business continuity and incident response plans, moving away from using large binders and flash drives.
Now, the company’s incident response team has anytime, anywhere access to their BC and incident response files via a mobile app. Since the crisis team has immediate, real-time access to these important documents, they are better equipped to communicate relevant emergency details, instructions, contact information and other updates throughout the organization. They also save a significant amount of time by being able to reference documents right in the palm of their hands.
3. Gain pre-approval on draft statements.
When a crisis hits a manufacturing organization, it’s important to quickly communicate information to the outside world—including the media, your customers and partners, and other important stakeholders. This is especially true when an emergency has the potential to disrupt the supply chain, as was the case following Hurricane Sandy.
When an emergency hits, you want to feel confident that your crisis communications are already approved by the necessary stakeholders, such as your legal department, executives and the public relations team. Whenever possible, draft your communications ahead of time, and gain approval from all the relevant departments and individuals.
This is another area in which digitized plans are helpful. Using a mobile app, you can easily distribute draft statements to the necessary stakeholders. If the statements require updating, the app automatically pushes all updates to each stakeholder’s device. That way, when an emergency strikes, your crisis team can be confident that the most up-to-date versions of the approved statements are being used, which helps to ensure a consistent, on-brand response.
How would you rate your organization’s current crisis communication methods? Do you feel that the techniques your company uses to communicate during an emergency are a help or a hindrance?