Before we dive into the final step, let’s revisit the key components of a solid, strategic hurricane communications plan:
- • Identify your audience and who will be doing the talking.
- • Determine what you will say in these communications and what you want your audience(s) to do.
- • Figure out the timing and when are you going to communicate with your audience. Plus, let them know when they need to do what you’re asking.
- • Nail down how are you going to tell them and the tone/mood of the communications. Also, make sure you determine where they will get the information and what communications channels you will use.
You followed the steps, communicated with the right folks, and did everything in your power to make sure the right people got the right messages at the right time. Now for the big questions - Did it work? What went well? What could have gone better? What changes should you make next year?
The goal of every project, every campaign, and every plan is to deliver on the objectives. Everything happens when and how it is supposed to. There are no hiccups or missed opportunities. As great as that sounds, it’s unrealistic because people are involved, and there are often elements that are out of our control. The key is to learn from the obstacles and pitfalls and adjust, so the team responds and plans better in the future.
It’s time for the after-action, the review, the look back – whatever you want to call it. It’s a key component of hurricane communications or any strategic communications for that matter. And timing is important. It should occur after the plan/project is complete, and results are known. In this case, it should occur after hurricane season, but while things are still fresh in key players’ minds and before planning for the next hurricane season begins. Ideally, the after-action should happen in December or January.
Before scheduling your meeting, ask yourself the following questions:
Who were the key players? Who were the decision-makers? Who executed the plan, and who felt the impact? These are the people who either need to be at the meeting or represented at the meeting. Send them topics and questions in advance, so they know what kind of information you seek. For example:
- • Did you receive the information you needed at the right time?
- • Did you understand what was expected of you?
- • Were the right people involved in the execution?
- • What changes would you make to help future hurricane communications be more effective and efficient?
You get the idea. The meeting should be a discussion, a sharing of ideas, but there are some rules to follow. There’s no finger-pointing or blame. Questions and new ideas are encouraged. The purpose is to learn from past experiences and do it even better the following year. Follow the meeting with a full recap and summary, along with the next steps for planning and implementing any new procedures. Finally, and perhaps most important, THANK THEM for their partnership and commitment to protecting the company’s business, reputation, employees, and the community.
Then close the book on that hurricane season. Take a short break and then begin planning for the next year. There’s always another storm coming.
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