Zehnder Communications, Inc.

What the September Storms Can Teach Your Business About Crisis

Business interruptions. Homeowners waiting for repairs. Resources, manpower and patience stretched thin. These are regular headlines across Louisiana more than a year after the historic floods of March and August 2016.

You can imagine, then, what’s in store for residents in Houston, Florida and the Caribbean as they begin rebuilding after September’s series of catastrophic hurricanes.

Zehnder’s expertise with crisis communications earned us an invitation to help Louisiana’s state government in the recovery from last year’s floods. The scale was overwhelming. The August flood alone, described as a once-in-1,000 years-event, dumped 7 trillion gallons water over south Louisiana in three days. Nearly 200,000 homes and businesses were either damaged or destroyed in the process.

Sitting at the table with top decision-makers gave us a firsthand view of responding to large-scale disasters and the level of coordination required. Our job was handling public communications. Every statement, every email, every website update and social media post had to be part of a consistent, coordinated message.

That meant translating information that was often technical and wonky, and turning it into straightforward, plain-English explanations of assistance programs and policy decisions. Communications had to be sent simultaneously across a number of platforms, each of which uses a different technology with its own set of quirks.

In fielding media requests, we helped arrange interviews and logistics. The former journalists on our team also handled media prep, assembling likely questions and key touch points to ensure answers stayed on track with existing messaging.

Why does all this matter to you? Ask yourself this: If disaster recovery is this complex for state-level government, how difficult will it be for your business?

At the very least, hurricanes offer the luxury of a few days’ notice. Tornadoes, cyber attacks, sexual harassment allegations, lawsuits, criminal charges and any number of other crises can strike with little or no warning. What are the most likely disasters to impact your business and how prepared are you? How would you address the damage and simultaneously communicate with customers, news media and stakeholders?

Remember one more lesson from the September storms. All three struck only days apart, proving that regardless of statistical odds, disasters occur more often than we’re sometimes willing to admit.

Zehnder’s battle-tested crisis communications experts stand ready help with customized planning, crisis and media training seminars for management and the tools you’ll need to protect your brand before, during and after catastrophe strikes.

Contact Client Development Manager Laura Gould at 504-962-3704 or to find out how Zehnder can help.


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