Filed Under:Agent Broker, Commercial Business

10 Steps to an Effective Catastrophe Response

How a company responds to a disaster and how the public perceives that response can have a significant and lasting impact on its business. Read 10 steps to an effective response - before it's too late.

By Carol Laufer, ACE Excess Casualty, and Lori Brassell-Cicchini, ESIS Catastrophe Services

Business continuity is not just about protecting the supply chain. When a disaster strikes, how a company responds, and how the public perceives that response, can have a significant and lasting impact on its business. A poorly handled response can seriously damage a company’s reputation, lead to lost customers and sales and even spur new regulations. An effective response will help mitigate those very real threats to revenue and reputation. Planning makes all the difference.

Protecting reputations

For instance, a food company whose products are found to contain misidentified or contaminated ingredients will need to respond quickly to avoid lasting damage to its brands or even the entire industry. An ineffective response will bring a drumbeat of negative media stories until the issue finally fades from public view. By that time, the damage may be irreparable.

3.      Build a response team

While managers at the site will have to deal with the disaster when it happens, they will quickly need expert reinforcements.  That includes the people to manage the catastrophe response and the media. In overseas locations, companies should make the best use of their local and international staff.  Employees with local language skills should be trained to work with local residents, government and media. Because a crisis may last for weeks, it is crucial to designate back-up teams and develop transition plans so that the hand-off goes smoothly.

9.      Engage social media

Because rumors and misinformation about a disaster are likely to spread over social media along with the news, the company should be prepared to communicate its messages in real time. Those messages should be developed and approved by the legal team in advance, so that the company can respond quickly when information about a crisis starts spreading on social media. The company should monitor social media to gauge public opinion as well as to correct misinformation or rumors.

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