A hotline to your staff
It’s probably an understatement to say that in the wake of a major incident, the crisis or incident management team tends to have plenty to think about and do. And their thought processes aren’t necessarily helped very much by everyone in the organisation, however concerned or well-meaning they might be, trying to contact them to find out what’s happened, what’s going on now, whether they can help, what they should do, and so on.
One tried and tested and extremely effective way of helping to reduce the volume of incoming calls is to implement an incident hotline. Typically, this consists of a voicemail-based service, whereby the incident management team has one number that they call to leave messages periodically, and staff at large have a second number that they call to listen to those messages.
There are other bells and whistles that can be bolted on, such as the ability for staff members to leave their own message in reply, but the hotline doesn’t need to be particularly sophisticated for it to be a really useful tool – for disseminating small amounts of relatively basic information to a large number of people, with a small amount of effort.
Of course, there are one or two important considerations – like ensuring that the hotline can handle an adequate number of concurrent calls and isn’t affected by the incident (hence many organisations use an external service rather than doing it themselves); or making sure that all staff (including the incident management team) know the hotline number and how and when to use it; and testing it periodically to make sure it actually works – but these pale into insignificance compared with the potential reduction in grief that a hotline can bring.
So if you don’t already have one, why not consider implementing an incident hotline as part of your crisis communications strategy?