August 25, 2016
Crisis Communications: Making Sure Your Message Is Received
Whether due to natural disasters, fires, bomb scares or any other threat, no one ever wants to have to roll out a crisis communications plan. But when crises arise, it’s essential that you know what to do to keep your residents safe.
As the frontline of emergency preparedness, property managers need to have a strong communications plan and a strategy to ensure that all renters get the message. Yet many don’t have the necessary system in place. After emergency drills, one of the most common findings is that communications aren’t up to snuff. Staff take too long to make critical decisions, and as a result, response coordination suffers.
Forming a plan of attack isn’t easy. The bigger your property portfolio, the more people and activity you have bustling about each day. Some comings and goings are predictable, but most aren’t. Today’s residents are frequently on the go and have diverse contact information. You need to connect with them through the method they prefer – be it email, text, voice, etc.
Property managers need a comprehensive plan that will enable them to quickly make informed decisions. They also need a solid process for gathering and storing resident contact information so it’s at the ready when the time comes to communicate with renters.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for and respond to crises:
Train until it’s second nature. Watching the Olympic athletes in Rio, it’s easy to see that constant training and practise create flawless performances. Training is just as critical to success in non-athletic pursuits. Every building manager or superintendent needs to be aware of and familiar with their role in helping evacuate the building. Whether they’re directing foot traffic, communicating with first responders or ensuring that all units are vacated, how each staff member performs their duties and works with the rest of the team will have a huge impact on the operation’s overall success. Validating your preparedness and practising protocol will ensure that everyone knows their role and understands the chain of command.
Stay up-to-date. Jobs change, cellphones get replaced. From phone numbers to email addresses, make sure you have current contact information for your residents – and a well-organized database to store it in.
Use a multitude of communication methods. Take advantage of the technology residents already use to reach them in the way that’s most relevant to them. The Internet, a community resident portal, email, texts, social media– anything goes, as long as it helps you get your message out. For widespread, urgent issues, implement a PA system to reach the whole building or select floors.
Offer ongoing resident reminders. Send regular newsletters or e-bulletins (monthly, quarterly) reminding renters of your building’s crisis protocol and letting them know about any new policies.
Build a sense of community. Encourage your tenants to look out for one another. In all your communications to residents, from emails to social media posts, take the opportunity to promote community. Emphasize the importance of “See something, say something” and spreading the word when important communications come out.
Perform a post-crisis review. If your building does go through a crisis, be sure to conduct a thorough post-event review. Look at what happened and what you can learn from it to be more prepared for future crises. Does your company need to provide follow-up communication to residents? Where your internal protocols up to snuff? How can you use post-crisis information to brainstorm and improve upon existing communication plans?
Let Property Vista Help
If you’re looking for a way to better communicate with residents, we can help. Property Vista’s resident portal lets you send texts, make automated phone calls, create mass emails and more, so you can quickly and effectively reach your residents and do everything possible to ensure their safety.
For more information on what we can do to improve your crisis communications, sign up for your free account today or give us a call.