The Associated Press published an article today about how businesses are preparing for a possible pandemic of avian flu. The article reports some interesting way that different companies are preparing:
- Setting up “clean” locations for employees and their families
- Paying employees to go into voluntary quarantine
- Arranging to have antiviral drugs available for employees
- Setting up solutions now that will allow key employees to work from home
- Using disposable plates and cups in company cafeterias, during a pandemic
- Staggering shifts and moving workstations farther apart
- Educational sections about pandemic/disaster procedures and threats on Intranets
One that I learned about firsthand last year:
Have a backup for web sites hosted onsite. When Hurricane Rita hit, countless schools with hosted web sites were down for months, just when parents were seeking the most information.
In the article, it was reported that PR and Advertising firm Ervin and Smith plans to have freelancers on call if employees fall ill.
Is a public relations consultant in San Antonio, Texas far enough away? 😉
But seriously, there are several steps that communications professionals can take to help improve a companies position should disaster or disease strike:
Threat Analysis: Conduct a threat analysis top determine what could cripple your company and how you would respond to each, what support you would offer employees and where they would work
Crisis Communication Plan: Determine how you will communicate with important stakeholders, including employees (first line), shareholders, customers and partners in the absence of telephone service, Internet, cell phones, and other infrastructure. (No, I didn’t forget the media, remember that they are a channel to the groups mentioned above).
Continuity Plan: How would you continue to operate if you lose your current location for the short, medium and long term?
Me, I use a removable hard drive as a backup and just replaced my desktop computer with a laptop. I probably should also consider backing up data occasionally online, does anyone have a recommendation?
I have also started working with a few selected independents, like myself, that can take over certain projects if I can’t get them done. For an independent, an illness or accident is a bigger threat that the high-level events.
Any other suggestions?