The Atlantic hurricane season officially begins June 1 every year, and forecasters have been predicting average to above average storm seasons for several years.

Are you and your organization prepared?

In 2017, Hurricane Irma caught many Florida businesses and organizations off guard, forcing them into scramble mode as they dusted off old hurricane plans, only to find the content grossly outdated (Twitter wasn’t even a thing during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons!).

No one can ever fully prepare for a crisis, but having a solid communications plan in place prior to a storm can help keep everyone informed.

Below are five steps to building a successful hurricane communications plan:

(1) Do you have a crisis communications plan? If not, get one. The ideal time to create any crisis communications plan is before there is a crisis. Likewise, the best time to develop a hurricane communications plan isn’t when employees are scouring the lumberyard looking for plywood or waiting in lines at the gas station. Imagine every scenario – wind, rain, flooding, loss of power, loss of facilities, shortage of supplies – and include those steps in the plan.

(2) Who is part of your core decision-making team? Department leaders and employees must know who is doing what, how to reach them and where they plan to be during and after the storm.

(3) How will you communicate to stakeholders? Be proactive when communicating with employees, customers and clients about hours of operation, damage and temporary closures. You can never over-communicate during times of crisis.

(4) What platforms will you use to communicate? Years ago, a phone tree was an effective, fast method of communications. Now, businesses can use phones, text messages, group chats, social media, website messages, emails, television and radio to relay communications to employees, customers and clients. Have a presence on all platforms whenever possible.

(5) Are you equipped to be more responsive than ever? Phone calls, emails and social media comments can flow fast and furious, so someone must be designated to respond in a timely manner with accurate, up-to-date information.

Creating a crisis communications plan and hurricane communications plan ensures your business or organization is well-prepared to navigate through difficult situations. It’s also an opportunity to shine when all eyes are looking in your direction.