How to stay connected during an email outage

By Posted in - Crisis Communications on September 13th, 2012 0 Comments

We live in an era of 24/7 connectivity. Whether through our desktop computers, iPads or iPhones, we’re “on” all the time. (I would argue we’re “on” too much but that’s a subject for another post).

But what happens when your email server goes down? How do you stay connected? Especially when the rest of the world may still be up and running? This was the case for us earlier this week as we, along with millions of other businesses, suffered from the hacker attack/weird malfunction.

In the event you find yourself in a similar situation, it’s a good idea to have a communications plan in place so everything doesn’t come to a grinding halt.

Utilize an alternate email address

Assuming you’re able to connect to the Internet somewhere other than your downed server, activate an alternate email address and send a note to any contacts who might be wondering what’s going on. Make sure to give them a phone number where they can reach you and when you expect your operations to be back up and running at full tilt. I have an alternate Gmail address I can use in a pinch, and I was able to send a note to my clients to alert them our primary email was down, and to call me on my cell phone if they need to reach me urgently. I sent another note once our email was operational again.

Take it to social media

If your business is active on social media, it’s a great way to let your fans and followers know if your website is down, or how to reach your business in the interim. Your social media manager should monitor the responses closely and funnel any questions/concerns to the appropriate department. Keep your fans and followers as current as possible, with frequent updates as to when you expect your website to return to the land of the living, and how you’re there to help answer questions in the meantime.

Pick up the phone

It might sound like a no-brainer, but in the event your email and website are down for an unforeseen amount of time, it’s a great reminder to pick up the phone and call any client contacts or employees who might be on deadline waiting for something from you. Call them and let them know what’s going on.

While an email or website outage may not be the end of the world, for businesses that rely on eCommerce for revenue streams, it can feel like it. The most important thing is to have a plan in place as to how you’ll rectify the situation as quickly as possible, and communicate with your employees, clients and customers with what you know, when you know it.

Our email outage only lasted a few hours, and because we were able to communicate via other channels during that time, we didn’t lose any ground. But if you haven’t had this happen in your organization in a while (or ever), let this serve as a reminder for you to dust off the crisis communications plan and review how you’ll handle your communications outreach if and when your servers are on the fritz.



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