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Crisis Communication in the Age of Unpredictability

(This post, “Crisis Communication in the Age of Unpredictability,” was originally published April 12, 2022, in Business Reporter UK and is excerpted here with permission. Access the full article here).

Secure and Reliable Communication Is Central to Effective Disaster Management

Effective communication can be the difference between success or failure. Winning or losing. Even life or death. We saw this during the height of the COVID crisis. When the U.K. public was instructed to stay at home and save lives, most duly obliged. They saw a leader on TV telling them that they must follow the new rules to protect the country.

But what if you don’t have the luxury of putting on a press conference to communicate critical information with a nation?

Keep Calm and Stay Alert

The pandemic was a wake-up call. Governments are starting to realize that maintaining proper communication during crises is no longer a "nice to have," it is a "must." The U.K. government recently tested an emergency alert on phones across the UK. The phone emitted a loud siren-like sound for 10 seconds as part of a test of the government’s planned emergency alert system. In addition to the noise, phones that received the alert also vibrated and read out text.

If the trials prove successful, the government will send out a National Welcome Message to the whole of the UK later this year announcing the new emergency alert system. In addition, the EU introduced the European Electronic Communications Code (EECC) directive, which states that all EU member states must have an established public warning system in place by 2022.

This is certainly a step in the right direction. Nations need a way to communicate at scale during a crisis. Indeed, across much of the world, the COVID crisis is still ongoing. Additionally, we are seeing more extreme weather events and natural disasters than ever before. 

By deploying a reliable networked crisis communication system, governments and national emergency response organizations can help keep the public safe and informed.

People-First Organizations

Of course, keeping the public safe is the priority of any government. National disasters call for a national response. But what about a crisis within a business? Emergencies and business disruptions happen. It’s how you prepare and respond to it that determines its level of impact.

One of the main challenges a business can face is internal communications. In fact, 74% of employees have the feeling they’re missing out on company news because the internal communication department is non-existent or doing a poor job. This lack of cohesive staff communication is only exacerbated during a crisis.

By using critical event management platforms, businesses can quickly communicate system outages, cyberattacks, and other planned or unplanned network downtimes.

Additionally, by having one source of truth, businesses can avoid rumors or misinformation spreading internally or, inevitably, externally during a crisis. Fake news now spreads six times faster than real facts. Business leaders need a way to protect both their staff and their organizations’ reputation during a critical event to mitigate the potential damage miscommunication can cause. To build resilience against this and many other threats, organizations need the right technology.

Keeping Up With a Crisis

The simple fact is that in most cases, we cannot prevent or even foresee a crisis, but organizations can control their emergency response. Establishing a clear crisis communications strategy that is deployed and executed through a critical event management platform will be vital to an organization’s response to crisis events.

A crisis and emergency management platform can automatically ingest critical event intelligence from cyber, IT, weather, physical security, and Internet of Things (IoT) sensor systems. Once a crisis has been identified it can then invoke predefined alert response protocols to gather the appropriate response teams into secure collaboration channels. These teams can then evaluate the situation and decide the next resolution steps and communication requirements.

Once these next steps have been agreed upon, the platform can then be used to initiate secure communications and notifications to targeted audiences through pre-configured communication channels. This includes accounting for the safety of individuals and gathering situational intelligence as the crisis develops, right through to the recovery phase to respond to, and recover from, critical events faster.

Trust and Transparency

There is no doubt that we are in an era where we can communicate faster than ever before. However, with so many ways to communicate, misinformation can spread just as quickly as the truth.

To properly communicate in a crisis, organizations and governments alike must invest. This is not just an investment in technology. It is an investment in people. It is an investment in trust. It is an investment in safety. A next-generation approach to crisis management requires next-generation solutions.

There is no single answer when it comes to crisis and disaster management – but it is critically important to ensure that communication is maintained, and the platform used to do so is secure and reliable. The technology is readily available for the public and private sectors alike.

The last couple of years taught us that leaders must do all they can to ensure the safety of their people and to be prepared for the unexpected. Deploying a critical event management platform is one of the most powerful and effective ways for leaders to do just that.

Ramon Pinero is VP Product and Services at BlackBerry AtHoc. BlackBerry AtHoc protects the public and government employees in emergency situations and helps businesses manage critical events.

Read the full article in Business Reporter UK.
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Ryan Burrus

About Ryan Burrus

Ryan Burrus is a Senior Product Marketing Manager at BlackBerry.