Entry Category: Public Relations, Crisis Communications
Entry Title and Organization: Superstorm Sandy, United Methodist Homes of New Jersey
Award Received: Silver
Challenges: To maintain and provide up-to-date communication during and in the aftermath of an unprecedented
and catastrophic weather event which disrupted organization-wide operations.
Description: Superstorm Sandy Communication
Strategy: To ensure reliable, effective and timely communication leading up to, during and following Superstorm Sandy for associates, residents, associates’ and residents’ family members, volunteers, and other concerned audiences. Also, in the aftermath of the storm, we resolved to create a communication piece in which our president could give an account of the event to the two governing boards.
Tactic: We set up a Command Center several days ahead of the storm and began to use our six Facebook pages and our website to communicate plans for preparation. Part of our plan included alternate energy sources, such as a generator and satellite cards to access the Internet and maintain electricity under extreme weather conditions. We also implemented special emergency phone numbers to which people could call 24/7. In the following days, Command Center personnel posted current activities specific to each community. These included evacuation, sheltering, relocation and return. When operations returned to normal, we composed an executive summary for our president and CEO aimed at our two governing boards.
Results: During a very challenging time we were able to maintain up-to-date communication, provide reassurance, enabling family members to contact or keep current on the status of their loved ones and give instruction. This communication flow complemented and enhanced our organizational emergency plans and a successful large scale operation. Many verbal and written testimonials flowed in during the subsequent days.