It’s that time of year again- Hurricane Season. We know it comes the same time every year. And yet, many of us find ourselves personally unprepared. In our homes, we don’t have our kits prepared and the supplies we need. In the construction industry, all too often we don’t have the processes and protocols in place to safely prepare job sites to minimize damage and potential danger to our neighbors.
At LandSouth, we have been refining and updating our preparation process and hurricane protocols over the years. But we realized that wasn’t enough and there were still gaps. Our site processes weren’t running smoothly. Efforts weren’t consistent. Why was this the case? Turns out our process was solid, but our communication was lacking. The issue was that we weren’t effectively communicating the plan – at least not in the right order at the right time and to the right people.
The risks are real. The safety of our neighbors and communities is always our top priority. Last year during Dorian, we discovered firsthand the importance of communication, consistent processes, and making sure everyone is on the same page. Through social media, we learned of serious concerns about one of our sites prior to an impending storm. We communicated quickly and honestly, and the job site team addressed any outstanding issues. However, it highlighted how we needed to better prepare for our annual greatest threat – hurricanes.
Since then, we have streamlined and improved our operational processes for preparing our construction sites for hurricanes. We’ve simplified cleanup so we can get back to work as quickly as possible – all while minimizing impacts and threats to our neighbors. Efficient and effective communication was the missing piece that would help coordinate the tasks and activities needed to prepare a job site. These communications would go into effect the moment a hurricane is named until the threat passes by. It was time to put the same rigor into our hurricane communications as we had into our site preparation and cleanup processes.
What will a hurricane communications plan look like? The plan must ensure everyone is on the same page, expectations are clear, and the process is easy to understand. How do we make sure we get the right messages to the right people at the right time? Developing a communication plan is as simple as identifying the five W’s – who, what, when, where, and why. Then include the “how” and you have a solid communications plan.
At LandSouth, we have already put our new plan to the test. If we have learned anything in 2020, it’s that anything can happen and usually when you least expect it. Forecasters have predicted an active storm season. Add to it other unforeseen challenges (who could have predicted a global pandemic in 2020?) and being prepared takes on a completely new importance.
What are the five “W’s” when it comes to a hurricane communications plan?
• WHO are the audiences? Who needs to receive the information and act on it?
• WHAT are your messages? Figure out what you need to tell them and distill the message to key points.
• WHEN will you tell them? With storms, timing is critical. Messaging must be relevant to the audience and their situation so they can act accordingly.
• WHERE will they receive this information? Identify the best channels to reach your audience. Will it be email? By phone? Social Media?
• WHY are you communicating with them? Make sure the objectives are clear and that your audiences know what they need to do.
• HOW are you going to communicate? This is like where, but more nuanced. Will you be empathetic and comforting? Will it be an order or a request? The tone of these communications matters greatly.
We’ll define these in more detail in future posts, but thinking about your who, what, when, where, why, and how is the first step in effectively preparing a hurricane, or any crisis communications plan.
It sounds like a lot, but when organized properly, a solid communications plan could make all the difference between site safety and maintaining your strong reputation. I sleep a lot better at night knowing we have that plan in place to protect our team, communities, and job sites.
ABOUT LANDSOUTH CONSTRUCTION…BUILDING IDEAS
LandSouth Construction, the Southeast’s premier general contractor, specializing in multifamily, senior living, and mixed-use development, was named one of Engineering News Record’s Top 400. Since 1998, LandSouth has transformed ideas into best–in–class communities. Headquartered in Jacksonville, Fla. LandSouth has completed more than 25,000 multifamily units. For more information, call LandSouth’s Marketing Coordinator, Kaley Robinson, (904) 760-3188, or visit www.landsouth.com