June 1, 2023
While all the employees and customers of the XYZ Corporation slept soundly, a mouse was up to trouble within XYZ’s walls, chewing on wiring insulation. When its teeth punched through, the electricity arced. Goodbye, mouse.* Hello, fire. The unsuspecting staff arrived to work the next morning, shocked at the destruction they saw. “Now what?” they wondered. “We should have had a disaster recovery communication plan!” they sighed.
The moral of the story? Disasters don’t happen often, but they do happen. And unfortunately, experts predict that natural disasters will happen more often in the coming years. A disaster recovery communication plan can help your business keep operating as best as possible — even in the unlikely event something awful happens. In this blog, we’ll show you how to make one and why.
But let’s get this out of the way first…
Do You Need a Disaster Recovery Plan?
Hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and fires can leave devastation in their wake. When it happens to a business, the results can be crippling.
If that all sounds far-fetched, these statistics are eye-opening:
- 1 in 10 small businesses suffered losses from a natural disaster in 2020 due to Hurricane Ida, historic low temperatures in Texas, wildfires, and the like
- Roughly 25% of businesses do not reopen after disasters
- Only 54% of organizations have a disaster recovery plan in place
With a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place, along with a sound communication strategy, your company can survive and maintain a solid reputation among your staff and customers.
If you’re interested in learning more about Business Continuity Plans (BCPs), and how they work in tandem with Disaster Recovery efforts, watch this 2021 webinar featuring our former CISO, Mike Burgard, and Jon Roberts, Security Manager:
How To Develop a Disaster Recovery Communication Plan
1. Begin With a Backup
Disaster recovery is impossible if a company’s data disappears due to a catastrophic event. That’s why it’s imperative to have all your critical information secure in the cloud. That includes your internal contact information for employees as well as all relevant external information on your customers, stakeholders, vendors, and business partners.
2. Establish a Disaster Recovery Team
Upper management and department heads are the natural choices for your disaster recovery team. Working together, they can map out the ideal chain of communication if the company experiences a catastrophic event. During this phase of your planning, your team will have two primary considerations: internal and external emergency communication.
Internal Emergency Communication
Quickly alerting your on-site, remote, and contracted staff about the disaster will take top priority. Ensure that the department leaders on your team all follow a pre-developed protocol and understand the importance of urgency as they inform their people about the event.
External Emergency Communication
After making sure all of your staffers are safe and informed, it’s critical to reach out to all non-employees who might be affected by the disaster. This includes your customers, stakeholders, board of directors, and in some cases, the local or national media. Heads of sales, marketing, PR, legal, etc., are ideal spokespeople to reach out to this audience.
3. Company-Wide Communication
After your disaster recovery team is set, hold a company-wide meeting to discuss your recovery plan. It’s important that everyone is on the same page and knows what and what not to do or say in the event of a disaster. Make it clear to everybody that external communications will be handled by the department team leaders. Consistent messaging is necessary for successful disaster recovery, and the last thing you want is a lot of people giving non-aligned reports of the incident.
When presenting the initiative, prepare a written plan document and distribute it to every employee. Make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the communication chain, particularly those individuals working in customer-facing roles like sales, service, and the support desk. Also, if you work with an IT provider like Marco, treat them just like an employee and invite them to the meeting. They’ll be a tremendous asset if you ever have to deal with an emergency.
4. Develop Communications in Advance
You never know if a disaster is going to happen or what form it will take. But you can take measures to get out ahead of a catastrophe. And the best way to do it is by creating communication templates in advance.
Some templates to have covered include a press release, emails, voicemail messages, call center scripts, social media posts, website notifications, etc. Leave [blanks] in these templates that can be quickly filled in with the relevant details of the disaster.
On [date], [company name] experienced a [disaster] from which we are working to recover. We had a comprehensive disaster recovery plan in place, which is allowing us to maintain as much continuity as possible. Our staff, customers, and partners are our highest priorities, and we will keep you all informed as we progress. We also want to assure everyone that all of our data is backed up and secure.
Naturally, if a disaster strikes, you may need to add or limit certain details in your templates. But having them prepared will greatly accelerate your communication responsiveness and help preserve trust among your employees and customers.
5. Run a Fire Drill
Once your disaster recovery plan is in place, your lead team members understand their roles, and your employees are fully briefed, you should test your plan to make sure it’s effective. And the best time to do that is before something happens, not after.
You can run your own “fire drill,” or a provider like Marco can work with you to establish a testing method that’s right for your organization. This will help ensure that your communication plan is robust, nimble, and effective. Routine testing will identify weaknesses in your plan and allow for ongoing improvements.
Pressing the Easy Button on Disaster Recovery
At Marco, we sincerely hope you’ll never have to put your plan into action — but having one in place can make all the difference. If you’d like help creating or testing your disaster recovery capabilities, click the button below to talk to a backup and recovery specialist.
*No mice were harmed in the creation of this blog!