Ready for the Big One – If your business does not have a disaster plan in place, it is time for you to formulate one.

If your business does not have a disaster plan in place, it is time for you to formulate one. If you have put one together, there is no time like the present to call the staff together for a review.

A couple of weeks ago, California’s Napa Valley experienced a serious earthquake of more than 6.0 on the Richter Scale. Thankfully, the earthquake happened while most people were in bed, leaving the damage limited to property and a few fine bottles of wine that no one will ever enjoy.

But what if that earthquake had happened in the center of San Francisco during the middle of the day? Would the broadcasters have been ready? Would retailers have had a plan to sustain business in the aftermath?

If your business does not have a disaster plan in place, it is time for you to formulate one. If you have put one together, there is no time like the present to call the staff together for a review.

To help you along, our team has created a short checklist of items worth discussing when you draw up or revise your plan. This is not comprehensive, but it is a great starter guide:

Broadcasters Disaster Plan Checklist


  • Remember that all disasters are NOT alike and you must have the foresight to anticipate the ones that will affect your operation. They include natural disasters like hurricanes, tornadoes, mudslides and meteor strikes. There are instances of civil insurrection, acts of war, terrorist attacks, police investigations (think Boston Marathon), and other issues involving military or police units that require planning. Don’t forget fire, sabotage or trucks driving into your lobby as happened recently in a Baltimore television station.
  • Know your players. Who are your essential personnel? Will they be willing to leave their homes and families to come into work and get the job done? Remember that assigning a job to a person who is unwilling or unable to complete it, will destroy the foundation of the your disaster plan. Choose personnel accordingly.
  • Create a notification protocol. Remember, when disaster strikes, telephones, texting, email and other electronic communication avenues may fail. Establish a set of conditions that may occur that would require your key personnel to get into work. Make sure that your employees fully understand those conditions.
  • Acquire police and/or military press credentialing for anyone who may have to travel during a disaster. Police often close the streets or impose curfews during the time that immediately follows a disaster. Be sure that your people can navigate the checkpoints with the greatest ease possible.
  • Stay in regular communication with authorities. Appoint one person to be your representative. You should also build relationships with their people now, before you need them. They need a speed dial number, not a name and title.
  • Stock your facility with non-perishable food items. Don’t wait for the disaster to strike. The supermarkets are going to be full of people and may even be a dangerous place. Most certainly, price gouging will occur. It is better to be prepared. Water is your main concern in most scenarios. Stored in a cool, dry place, H20 will last indefinitely. You should plan on a minimum of 32 ounces per day, per person, for a minimum of seven days.


Buy a giant picnic cooler and have an ice source in mind.

  • Buy a generator. Maybe two. Maybe three. Be sure to have a secured fuel supply to maintain the operation of the generators. Among your essential personnel is the person responsible for the generator(s). They should serve the power needs of the main studios or your main place of business for as long as possible.
  • If you operate a radio or television station, what will your approach be to covering he disaster? Will you simulcast an information outlet? Will your morning team calm the city and allow listeners to vent their concerns, or will you be wall-to-wall news? What is your music policy?
  • Will you broadcast commercial-free? If so, for how long? Will you monitor commercials and music content for sensitive material after the disaster has passed? If you decide to accept commercials, will you just run the schedules your customers have purchased, or will you bump those in favor of companies offering disaster related products and services?
  • Make sure that your operation is secure. After Hurricane Katrina, looters and people seeking shelter attacked some radio buildings. Your number one job is to keep your staff safe, so that they can keep the community as safe as possible. The time to hire security is before a disaster. If you try during the disaster’s aftermath, you will pay more and you may not be able to secure protection.
  • Make arrangements to broadcast from studios in another location. That may mean relocating to another nearby but unaffected town, or it may mean living at your transmitter site for a period of time. You may even wish to negotiate reciprocal broadcast deals with other companies.
  • Document what happens on a timeline. It will serve you well with your regulatory agency, in case a court case arises, or for a documentary you may choose to produce during the time of the disaster.
  • Be sure that what your team announces on the air is correct information. No guessing. No innuendo. It is better to be second to a story, than to find out that your team has been spreading false information. Be sure that your screeners really know those they put on the air. An “expert” caller may be someone whose sole intent is to play a joke and you are the butt of it. Stop it before it happens. If CNN can be burnt with some regularity, so can you.
  • Enforce “no alcohol” policies in the studio complex.
Have cash or barter reserves in your safe. In times of disaster, cash is king.

  • Make sure station vehicles are gassed up and ready to go.
  • Book hotel rooms near the broadcast facility. Have a room sharing plan, if necessary. Remember, in the U.S., you may be legally responsible for the conveyance of employees to and from work sites
  • When possible, organize relief for the people affected. Your community won’t forget your helping hand. Something as simple as coffee and donuts at a shelter will make all the difference.


Disasters come in all shapes and sizes, but the size of your footprint will be determined by the size and strength of your commitment. For more information and some no-fee guidance, contact us. We literally wrote the book on it.

We’ve created this easy to share graphic. You can download a PDF version of it here or just share it with your colleagues.
download PDF

 

disaster plan infographic

Post by

Bill Pasha
President/CEO

Bill Pasha is President/CEO of The MBMI Companies, LLC., the parent firm of MultiBrand Media International, Maximized Brand Marketing International and Valoriant Safety. Before joining the entrepreneurial world, Bill was recognized as one of the top Program Directors in America and as an authority on consumer consumption of media. He continues to consult broadcasters around the world.

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