It’s no secret that proper communication is vital to running successful business operations. Throw in a category 5 hurricane or other natural disaster and communications can come to a screeching halt. As Gulf Coast companies begin updating and testing their disaster recovery plans, it’s crucial to focus on staying in touch before, during and after the storm.

Here are five little known ways to keep lines of communication open.

Internet Telephony

Many businesses, both large and small, are employing VoIP phone systems to reduce infrastructure and communication costs. Users with Internet access and electricity can connect via voice-over IP phones from anywhere in the world. In the event of disaster, users can take their office phone and plug in to a laptop for instant communication capabilities.

Vonage phones are an affordable option to stay in touch with clients. All you need is an Internet connection and adapter for your portable phone. Calls will route from your business number to the phone and allow you to continue receiving normal communications.

SMS Messaging

For those of us that endured Hurricane Ike, we remember how hard it was to use our cell phones. Calls weren’t getting through, but text messages were a savior. Implement an SMS policy for employees to update management with their “hunker down” plans and to check in after the storm.

Social Media

Companies with Facebook pages or Twitter accounts can leverage social media to keep communications with employees and customers flowing.

  • Use status updates to send messages to your team and let clients know that operations are up and running.
  • Communicate with key personnel about DR procedures via direct Tweets and Facebook inboxes. These messages are kept private and will not show up in their main stream.
  • Set up a private Twitter group for confidential messaging among a business unit.

Cloud-Based Email Services

Small and mid-size businesses should consider utilizing a hosted Exchange email service like Apptix or an online email security service like McAfee/MX Logic to manage their email communications. For a couple dollars per inbox per month, you can enjoy the benefits of spam and virus protection with added email continuity. When unplanned outages occur, services like these allow quick access via the Web and archive messages for more than a month.

Two-Way Radio

Never underestimate the power of a two-way radio. You don’t have to be a trucker or survivor man to understand that in a digital world, sometimes old school is best.

The secret to each of these ideas is developing a tested plan to ensure your employees are prepared. Arm them with the proper procedures, and make sure they have emergency numbers readily available.

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