No matter what your event is, be it board meeting, a comic-con, or conference, it is essential that you as the event planner have thought through and prepared for a myriad of emergencies. There are many factors that go into creating and communicating an emergency plan but there are three basic essential points.
Establishing a point for information or contact
In the first hours of an emergency, misinformation and rumors will fly wildly about as the lines between fact and fiction can become blurred. With so many people involved, it is essential that there is no misinformation floating around. It is your responsibility to get the truth out there. If your attendees aren’t made aware of any changes going on, the attendees become distressed. This is both bad in the moment but will also hurt your brand. Before your event happens, make sure you have established a point of contact and a social media account that your attendees can use as a veritable source of information. This is crucial in minimizing the false stories and rumors that could circulate as your attendees will look to your social media account for answers. Having a primary social media account allows your attendees to be kept up-to-date without having to rely on word of mouth. Your point of contact will speak directly to the media acting as a sort of funnel so all the stories being published on the emergency or crisis are consistent.
Who is the manager?
This is a key point when creating an Emergency Communications plan. Appoint a person who will take command of the situation should a power outage or a medical emergency, etc. occur. This person will be your point of contact for any questions the media and press may have concerning the emergency at your event. In order for them to make a good impression to the public, that person should know the resources available to them, the personnel most needed and how to move forward in dealing with the emergency. If they aren’t familiar with public speaking or don’t know how to speak in front of a camera, make sure they get training! It will never do anyone harm to become a little more familiar with public speaking.
Always have a plan!
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin. Even if Confucius hadn’t said this, previous experience would have told you the same thing. Figure out how you will notify attendees should a crisis happen. Will you use Twitter or text notifications? Have you properly identified which network (i.e. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc.) you will be broadcasting such messages from? Have you told your attendees which media account you will use?
Have you discussed and gone over your host venue’s emergency plan? Have you gone over all the emergency exits and gathering locations? Does your host venue know where all the fire extinguishers are? How far away is the hospital/police station/fire station? These are just a few of the extra questions you should ask yourself and your potential host venue to make sure the venue is up to date on fire drills and safe room capacity.
When you go over all the possible emergency scenarios and their many possible solutions, you are actually making it easier for you and your team to respond. In training and preparing for emergency situations, you are establishing neural pathways and allowing your brain to have a much easier time functioning under pressure. We all know critical thinking goes down when under duress. Even though there is a lot more that goes into an Emergency Communications plan, by making sure you have a baseline of these three steps, you will have set your team up for success as they will be able to coordinate in a streamlined action.
For more information not found in this article on how to gather resources and prepare for emergencies, contact us!