AS THE MASSIVE, CATEGORY-5 HURRICANE IRMA made its approach toward South Florida last week, it was hard for us to focus on anything else. While marketing is obviously not is not a high-priority when a hurricane is approaching, communication should be.

For many, business is not as much a priority when a storm like this is approaching. But when you are a business owner or when a business owner is relying on you, it’s different. How you respond before, during, and after the storm is as important as your family and homes.

Thankfully, we were spared the worst of the storm.

Fort Lauderdale businesses are still without power today. We’re still trying to clean-up debris and communities are working hard to get back to normal as quickly as possible. Still, many businesses are having a hard time communicating with their clients and staff because of down phone lines and sporadic connections. It’s hard to imagine what’s happening in harder hit areas right now.

It’s hard to imagine what’s happening in harder hit areas right now.

What has been satisfying is knowing that I am making things easier for my clients during stressful times. So, I wanted to share some advice that I gave my clients just before things got real. (These tips were in the context of the impending storm but are sound communication practices that will help you execute any campaign quickly.)

  • Social media is a reliable way to communicate with your clients, employees, and tenants during and after the storm. Most people know these platforms are the most up-to-date and accessible from mobile applications. They will likely look to Facebook and Twitter when they want an update from you. While your audience may not be big, it’s not too late to create a social media platform to help you communicate.
  • Leave a recorded message with status updates. If you need to create a last minute emergency phone number outside of your phone system, consider Google Voice. It has a lot of features, it’s reliable, and the best part – it’s free!  (learn more about Google Voice)
  • Review pre-scheduled email and social media messages and make adjustments.
  • Use your resources. While you’re busy with operational matters, your marketing staff can help draft the rights words and coordinate points of communication. This will allow you to attend to the business at-hand.

Also, don’t wait too long to consider your scheduled events. Where people are focused needs to be considered. I guarantee no one was concerned about registering for real estate events with the Cat-5 storm approaching. In our case, we had to reschedule several events. Everyone was grateful for the consideration and acting ahead of time helped save money for a time when it’s better spent.

Lastly, we all know the best time to prepare is BEFORE an emergency. Experience shows that social media is the #1 way people stay connected when there is a crisis. Set up your social media platforms ahead of time, make sure that your customer contact lists are up-to-date in your email management system, and communicate regularly. You’ll be happy that you did.

All of this seems obvious, but you’ll have a lot of on your mind. I know my clients still do at this stage of the game.