Lawyers know better than most that we need to prepare for the worst. But what about when the worst comes for your law firm and business? We have some guidance for preparing communications for your business ahead of the bushfire season. While we hope you will never have to use a Disaster Communication Plan, it will be as valuable as your insurance when a disaster hits.
Insuring your Law Firm’s communications and marketing
Bushfire season is coming up and, if history repeats, it will create untold heartache for many communities and businesses. Once you check your law firm is protected with an adequate insurance policy, it’s time to turn to non-tangible assets such as data. Ensure your law firm’s record management system is disaster proof and can be accessed in alternative scenarios when the unexpected occurs.
Your law firm’s plan for communication in disaster
Preparing ahead of time will help soften the blow if you are in the line of disaster, and put you in a position to help your clients again sooner. For business continuity, a simple communications task list includes:
- Backing up vital documents in a separate digital and also ideally a physical location
- Perform weekly data backups of all client records and communication assets
- Plan redirects from landlines to a recording advising your law firm’s status
- Draft website and social media notices to pin to the top of your page about your law firm’s status
Our key concern is that your vital documents and data include your client’s and staff’s communications contacts. This information is essential in a disaster to keep vital communication lines open.
Why a newsletter and database are important during disasters
Reaching out to staff and clientele during disasters is important to returning to business as normal as soon as possible. This is why it’s important to build a newsletter database over time, and have a proper contact management system that allows you to send essential information quickly when disaster strikes. With a newsletter database, in times of disaster, your law firm can begin to share information sooner, and your clients will remain informed. A caveat is that you triage any communications during times of disaster to the right people. Who is affected by this disaster? Apart from your staff, who externally knows or should know about your law firm? Your current or active clients would be one group. In a disaster, affected people will likely experience information fatigue, so be mindful only to communicate essential information. Plan out ahead of time who you would contact based on certain events to help guide your communications.
Prioritising communications from your law firm in disasters
When disaster hits, it’s difficult to predict what people will do or what they’ll need the most. A helpful communications kit will include a disaster response marketing communications plan. In your plan, include:
- A tree list of contacts with addresses, emails and telephone numbers of your staff, key clients, local media, IT support and property managers, handypersons, nearby health providers, power suppliers, emergency contacts, relevant local and state government organisations.
- A hierarchy of responsible delegates in the event of disaster or emergency
- Templates of responses covering every likely disaster to assist consistent communications
- A backup work location or meeting point if the office becomes unavailable
Creating and then updating a disaster response marketing communications plan every year as part of business continuity, is an asset to your law firm, your staff, and your clientele. Ensure your business can recover quickly from disaster; begin your plan before disaster season begins.