In recent years, several incidents occurring in the external environment have forced organizations to consider implementing comprehensive emergency communications programs. The lingering uncertainty generated by terrorism, for example, has continued to take a psychological and financial toll on employees and organizations ever since 9/11 (Sellnow, Littlefield, Vidoloff, & Webb, 2009).
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At PSD Energy Solutions, the management is aware that terrorist incidents are on the increase as demonstrated by current trends of radicalized elements targeting Western interests (Sellnow et al., 2009). Due to the ongoing concerns, there is an urgent need to develop an emergency communications program for use by the company. The present paper is a proposal that identifies a strategy for an effective emergency communications program, along with recommended options and business justification.
Strategy for an Effective Emergency Communications Program
The primary objective of the emergency communications program is to manage terrorism-related communications through a clearly defined channel with the view to reducing serious adverse consequences for PSD and its stakeholders. The first component of the plan entails training a group of employees in the identification of the internal and external constituents to be included in the evaluation of the terrorist threat.
Internal components include PSD employees and managers while external parts include suppliers, contractors, the media, and the public. It is expected that the trained personnel will be provided with the knowledge of prioritizing the components according to importance, with the highest priority being given to PSD employees and management.
They will also be trained on how to conceive and deliver emergency messages with optimal effectiveness and efficiency. The available literature demonstrates that the efficient delivery of well-conceived emergency communications is essential in ensuring employee safety and facilitating response times (Mazzei & Ravazzani, 2015).
Hyer and Covello (2005) report that such a predisposition is needed to inspire confidence and assist families to reunite. The second component of the strategy is to pinpoint potential communication methods for each constituency group. The program will use recent technological advances in social media platforms and mobile phone messaging services to reach PSD’s stakeholders.
More specifically, the company will open Facebook and Twitter accounts for use in communicating terrorist-related incidents. The organization will also invest in messaging services and maintain a database of contacts for use during emergency events. These communication methods are efficient as they can reach the target audience and deliver the message reliably.
They also demonstrate the capacity to improve understanding of the message content (Ruggiero & Vos, 2014). It is also important to design the frequency of communications for each constituent group mentioned in this plan. As such, the company’s suppliers and contractors will be occasionally updated depending on threat exposure and duration.
However, employees, managers, and the media need to be frequently updated to reduce anxiety and reinforce trusting relationships (Ruggiero & Vos, 2014). Regular communications of the threat assist an organization to minimize reputation damage and enhance its appeal as a responsible entity (Sellnow et al., 2009).
The last component of the emergency communications strategy is to develop sufficient criteria that could be used to determine appropriate communication interventions. Such measures must consider the treat category and the urgency of communication to achieve favorable outcomes.
In threat type, the emergency communication plan will consider elements such as threat intensity, threat duration, safety assessment, and the potential impact of the incident on PSD’s operations. In the urgency of communication, the plan will consider the sender-receiver time duration and the groups that need to be alerted first depending on risk (Mazzei & Ravazzani, 2015).
The recommended options for the emergency communications program revolve around the tenets of saving lives, maintaining the reputation of the company, and mitigating potential anxiety and psychological turmoil. The options are as follows:
- The priority is to protect the company’s intangible assets (employees and managers), as these are the most useful supporters of the organization’s reputation (Mazzei & Ravazzani, 2015).
- The company will at all times accept a high level of responsibility and accountability for its terrorism-related crisis situations to preserve its reputation (Mazzei & Ravazzani, 2015).
- Concerted efforts will be made to update the media to ensure the objectivity and accuracy of reports being disseminated to the public. Inability to maintain objectivity and accuracy may trigger anxiety and psychological turmoil among employees and other stakeholders (Sellnow et al., 2009).
- PSD will always strive to keep the terrorist threat in perspective with the view to ensuring the actual risk becomes clear to all stakeholders (Sellnow et al., 2009).
- The company will disseminate useful and up-to-date information using messaging services and social media platforms to manage fear as well as enhance employees’ self-awareness and vigilance (Sellnow et al., 2009).
Business Justification for the Program
The business rationale is nested on the fact that mobile phone messaging services and social media platforms are not only cost-effective to use but also appeal to a wider audience. As such, the company will be able to save huge amounts of money and still have the capacity to reach a broader audience in the event of a terrorist incident.
Additionally, the selected communication methods have a faster response rate and capacity to repeat the messages consistently to reinforce understanding (Crisis Communication and Social Media, 2014). A good comprehension of the crisis not only saves the lives of stakeholders but also ensures the company does not lose money in costly lawsuits and employee turnover.
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This proposal has identified an effective strategy that uses messaging services and social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) to undertake crisis communications intended to neutralize terrorism-related incidents. The proposal has also provided several recommended options and discussed the business justification for the emergency communications program.
This plan can be implemented to save lives, maintain the reputation of the company, and mitigate potential anxiety and psychological turmoil by availing credible and accurate information in crisis situations.
Crisis communication and social media: A best practice guide to communicating in an emergency. (2014). Web.
Hyer, R.N., & Covello, V.T. (2005). Effective media communications during public health emergencies. Web.
Mazzei, A., & Ravazzani, S. (2015). Internal crisis communication strategies to protect trust relationships: A study of Italian companies. Journal of Business Communication, 4(1), 105-130.
Ruggiero, A., & Vos, M. (2014). Social media monitoring for crisis communication. Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, 4(1), 105-130.
Sellnow, T.L., Littlefield, R.S., Vidoloff, K.G., & Webb, E.M. (2009). The interesting arguments of risk communication in response to terrorist hoaxes. Augmentation and Advocacy, 45(3), 135-150.