How to respond when tornado-like situations happen in your company

How to respond when tornado-like situations happen in your company

The week of April 9–13 is Tornado and Severe Weather Awareness Week in Wisconsin. Made up of funnel-shaped, violently rotating air, tornados typically form out of thunderstorms and come in fast and furiously, leaving a trail of destruction as they pass.

We rely on meteorologists and their storm watches and warnings to prepare for and minimize storm damage. So, what does this have to do with marketing? The same warning system can be applied to your communications. After all, a speedy response time in stormy weather (and organizational tornadoes) can mean the difference between a quick, post-storm clean up and your organization (or reputation) being damaged beyond repair.

Developing a code system to address critical communications

Not only do we help our clients with day-to-day marketing activities (like writing a blog post, sending an email newsletter, developing a brochure or writing a radio ad), we also help our clients respond to situations that have a more urgent turnaround time (like an untrue social media comment or a security breach). That’s why we developed a coding system of our own to help us respond to and develop communications for each situation.

  • Code Yellow = conditions are ripe for dangerous situations (4-hour to 1 day response time) A Code Yellow is more like a tornado watch where conditions are ripe for a tornado and you should watch the weather and start preparing. In Code Yellow situations, there is usually a longer timeline for seeking cover (or preparing and sending communications). This could be responding to an online review or customer complaint on social media. While it doesn’t need immediate action, you shouldn’t wait too long to address customer concerns, as a complaint could turn viral, and that’s not the free WOM advertising you’ve been hoping for.
  • Code Red = take action immediately (14-hour response time) A tornado warning means a tornado touchdown is VERY likely, danger is imminent, and you should seek shelter immediately. While you can’t take a “duck and cover” approach to your Code Red communications, you can prepare by having a plan developed to help guide you through Code Red situations. The key is to quickly identify the need for a communication and the timeline to minimize damage. Maybe your organization was impacted by a security breach and you need to make your customers aware of the situation. The quicker you communicate with your constituents, the faster they can act (if needed) to reduce the damage.

Feel like you’re always putting out fires and addressing Code Red comms? Let Writing by Design help you weather the storms. We are well-versed in providing communication support for emergency responses, and we can also help with your day-to-day business writing and marketing needs.

Headshot of Kayde Kempen, SEO and communications specialist

Kayde Kempen joined the Writing by Design team in 2016 as a Communications and SEO Specialist and has a bachelor’s degree in journalism. She has written hundreds of blog posts and e-blasts, both for Writing by Design and its clients, is the lead content writer for Writing by Design’s website/SEO clients, and assists with press releases, concept writing, script writing and more. Prior to joining the Writing by Design team, she was an associate marketing manager for five years at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, where she lead nearly 90 website redesign projects, wrote for the University’s alumni magazine and news website, and wrote and managed a variety of print and digital marketing projects.