ICS Magazine

Rapid Response in the Wake of a Natural Disaster

August 9, 2011

For several years, the IICRC has engaged in a “rapid response” program, aiming to spread the word of what to do and what not to do when property owners are dealing with natural disasters, like flooding and wildfires.

Our marketing team continually monitors the weather across the country and sends consumer tip sheets to relevant media when needed.

The goal is to get information into the hands of property owners as they start the clean-up process. For example, after Hurricane Katrina we worked with The Times-Picayune to share information about mold remediation. And in the Georgia flooding of 2009, local newspapers ran short articles with initial steps homeowners should take when starting to clean-up. As well as, during the San Diego wildfires of 2007, a local registrant was interviewed to talk about smoke damage clean-up.

While the IICRC does its best to reach out to media before, during and after a natural disaster, often, we look to our registrants to help spread the word as well. The tips sheets for storm clean-up are available both on the consumer facing site, www.certifiedcleaners.org (go to the “Tips and Advice” section), and in the Certified Firm Marketing Toolkit.

With this content, you have all the knowledge and tools you need to begin rapid response outreach when disaster strikes in your community. First, think of all of the news outlets you consume – local TV, radio, newspapers – and find out the contact information for these outlets.

Once you have this gathered, contact the media outlets and offer yourself as an expert resource on cleaning, restoration and remediation, offering to send the tip lists as examples of what you can speak to. And on occasion, reach out even when there is no flooding or wildfires in the area so a reporter knows you’re available and can keep your information on file for future use.

Another way to inform consumers and media of your expertise and services offered, is to send a press release out post-disaster, highlighting your commitment to helping your neighbors get back on their feet. In this release, highlight tips that are easy to understand for consumers, discuss what consumers can do first and help them understand the importance of contacting a professional, and emphasize concerns that could be raised from the disaster (i.e., mold, smoke inhalation, etc.). Then, distribute the release to the media contacts you’ve compiled and post to your website and any other online channels available.

Your knowledge around the health and safety concerns will position your company as an expert in the field, and someone that both media and consumers will call on when they need to trust someone to help them rebuild their lives. Together with the IICRC, we can get this important information into the hands of property owners so they start the clean-up process the right way.