What's Your Incident Response Communication Plan?

Posted on Nov 15, 2019

Critical events happen every day: severe weather, workplace violence, active shooters, terrorism, IT and power outages, environmental discharges, critical equipment failures, medical emergencies, social media attacks, and more. These incidents threaten safety and brand reputation, interrupt supply chains, and disrupt operations. That’s why a prepared, documented communication plan is critical.

When an incident occurs, your communication plan should go smoothly into action— notifying all the right people and providing clear instructions on what to do.

In devising a good incident communication strategy, it’s important to first identify threats that could affect your organization and employees— then build out a plan for communicating around these identified threats. Strategize and plan for multiple scenarios – both minor and major incidents.

Then, strategize how you would respond to those threats with the following questions:

  • Who is involved in threat response?
  • What processes would be followed?
  • Who would be impacted?
  • What messages would be communicated?

Based on your responses to these questions, you can create message templates to help speed your response during time-sensitive events. Templates should be prepared for multiple event stages (before, during, and after event impact) and should be matched to the anticipated mode of delivery (voice call, SMS, email, etc.).

Your communication plan should also include a process for on-the-fly messaging, for unexpected scenarios or developments. This means that your communication technology needs to support quick creation and quick delivery of messages that may be crafted shortly before they are sent. In all cases, messages related to incidents should be simple – short, readable, and actionable. The wording and structure of a message can impact reader comprehension and affect successful incident management.

Standard communication guidelines:

  • No more than 3 message points
  • Deliver 3 short sentences
  • Keep the key content in the first 30 words

Effective two-way communication with your contacts, including on-the-scene resources, can help you supplement incident monitoring by gathering front-line intelligence to guide response.

Ensuring rapid information sharing during major and minor incidents is critical to keeping your people safe and your business operations running. For help devising and managing an incident communication response plan, get in touch with us!


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