Recommendation: Take advantage of "All Clear" messages sent after a critical event to provide additional information, safety reminders, and community building safety messages.
I've noticed that many emergency notifications public safety sends focus on short, concise, clear instructions following a typical pattern of the emergency life cycle:
- Problem onset notification
- Updates as necessary
- “All Clear” message during recovery phase of an incident.
It’s worth taking a little extra time to educate and inform as you send your "All Clear" messages.
Many of our Rave Alert customers, as a best practice, have public safety initiate critical communications at the start of an incident. Public Safety, rather than a PIO, issue the first warning, is the fastest, most efficient origin for timely communications of serious events -- especially when conditions may be rapidly changing.
Emergency messages at the onset of situation are best left short and to the point -- especially when an action is required where "doing" is more important than "reading." Emphasizing "action required" instructions during a critical event - e.g., "Shelter in place" - is an obvious best practice when crafting messages and message templates. If you want someone to do something specific in response to your message, say that first.
We trade precision and completeness for urgency in these types of messages to provide actionable information rapidly and effectively.
At the end of a critical event, an "All Clear" type message closes the case for the community. Many, if not most, of your message recipients do not have the same "inside knowledge" of events as your responders and key personnel. It’s worth remembering that short authoritative command-oriented notifications, right at the time they're issued, often leave the recipient in a state of suspense.
So, that same, effective short form communication will almost certainly leave a significant number of recipients unclear, curious, and potentially anxious about events happening around them.
As a best practice, this is an opportunity to clarify and communicate information left out of earlier communications. You can also send reminders and safety tips relevant to the situation.
To prepare for this, I suggest two primary techniques:
1. Be prepared. Write template language that provides a foundation for an effective “All Clear” statement, and possibly "footer" material to add reminders about key safety practices that apply to your community. For example:
- Reminders to update contact information with links to your portals
- Suggested content available on your Public Safety FAQ pages
- Recommended actions to take for self-protection,
- Suggestions on what to report to your safety responder tip hotlines
All are solid subject matter for a standard email template provided with an “All Clear” report.
2. Customize, assure and explain. Involve your PIO and key communications staff to craft the right messages once the time-critical phase of your event is over. If a significant law enforcement, emergency, or facilities issue has generated messages and warnings, carefully explain relevant information about the nature of the event as well as a positive summation of the response and resolution of the incident.
Messages surrounding critical events impact individuals in your communities and campuses. They also often attract media attention. This is where well written messaging written by skilled communicators builds trust with your community, presents clear information to quell rumors and misconceptions, and gives you an opportunity to educate the community about the role everyone plays in overall public safety.
Plan in advance and build a process that gets the correct staff involved in communications. Obvious advice perhaps, but in the heat of a crisis or critical situation, every responder needs to be aware of your processes and key staff who are on call to assist safety responders with clear messaging.
Remember, taking advantage of post-event communication opportunities helps provide additional information to your community and helps you issue important safety reminders and messages.