Disaster recovery and business continuity are terms most commonly associated with IT and operations departments. The idea is that when the proverbial expletive hits the fan, your business has an action plan that can immediately be set in motion to minimise the impact on your business.

Yet when the crisis does come, external communications could easily consume 25 hours in every day until the crisis is resolved. Consider the simple case of a fire at your premises. You will almost certainly need to contact all of your customers to let them know if there will be any delays or inconveniences or disruption of service. You will need to deal with press enquiries. You will need to let suppliers know. You may need to reassure other stakeholders, such as shareholders. You also need to communicate well internally, keeping staff up to date and quelling the rumour mill.

When you are trying to maintain business as usual, do you have time to carefully manage all of that?

Public relations and communications are essential components of a solid business continuity plan. You need to have your internal and external media planned out, with key points of contact trained in what to say and how to say it, plus ideally draft press release templates for key possibilities (death of key staff, fire etc.).

Like the rest of your continuity plan, this needs to be reviewed regularly. Also like the rest of your plan, external providers can help to mitigate against risks. An agency can act as a buffer between your (probably very stressed) staff and the outside world while you focus on fixing the problem – but only if they have been involved in the planning stage and are pre-prepared.