8 Emergency Mass Notification System Dos and Don'ts

Organizations are continuously faced with critical events that make reliable communications an absolute necessity. Whether it’s a hurricane, a power outage or an active shooter, you need to get the right information to the right people at the right time. The best way to do that is with a modern critical event management platform that includes an emergency mass notification system (EMNS).

Not all systems for mass communications are created equal, and you definitely shouldn’t pick one at random. To find the right fit or make a quality upgrade, consider these dos and don’ts when comparing mass text messaging systems.

4 Common Mistakes to Avoid

1. Don’t choose a vendor solely on price.

Although price is a factor, it shouldn’t be the only one you consider when choosing a system for mass alerting. Available features, effectiveness, customer support and reliability are the criteria to prioritize. An inexpensive system that doesn’t work effectively can cause more problems than it solves. If the software malfunctions in the middle of a crisis and the vendor is too overwhelmed to address the issue, you could lose precious response time. And depending on the type of disaster, lost time could mean lost livelihoods, or worse, lost lives. 

2. Don’t purchase without evaluating what capabilities your organization needs.

Mass texting services can vary significantly in terms of their features. Spend some time considering the capabilities your organization needs. They may include:

  • A way to reach global teams on a variety of communications channels
  • Instant conference calls to allow leaders to form response plans
  • An employee scheduling feature with automatic escalation
  • Two-way communications and employee polling

Before selecting a notification system, sit down with your department leaders and hash out exactly what you need it to accomplish. 

3. Don’t implement a system that can’t grow with you.

A lot of time and money can be wasted if you invest in a system that only addresses your current needs. Consider long-term goals and potential expansion in the coming years. If you’re currently based exclusively in the United States but have plans to expand globally, your mass texting service should allow you to reach international stakeholders. You may even need messages to be translated into recipients’ preferred languages. If you foresee large increases in your staff, automated scheduling features may also become necessary. A scalable mass communications system supports growth and resilience.

4. Don’t underestimate the need for reporting. 

It’s hard to tell if your mass notification system is effective if you can’t track whether you’ve reached everyone. The system should provide a log of when your messages were opened and in which communications channel. Responses from stakeholders should be easily accessible, so you can quickly assess the need for further outreach. An audit trail of all communications will help with business continuity and future response planning, as well as maintaining legal compliance.

The Basics of Emergency Communication: Understanding Notification Technology

Improve your crisis response with the fundamentals of emergency notification technology.


4 Signs of a Modern Solution

1. Do look for mobile-friendly alerting options.

People are no longer tethered to their desks, so alerts have to be delivered to a range of devices, including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. Look for a system that can reach people via email, SMS, app-based push notifications, desktop alerts and voice. It should also offer automatic translation and options to set language preferences. This will ensure you can reach stakeholders wherever they’re located, on any device and in their chosen language. 

2. Do communicate through a variety of channels.

A multi-modal approach will increase the likelihood of your messages reaching everyone in the area of impact. The more communications channels, the better. If a category 5 hurricane hits your area, you could lose one or more modes of communication. With a robust multi-modal system, you can still keep people informed and protected. It’s also important to consider two-way communications and polling options so people can mark themselves safe or request help. By providing your people with way to reach out, you can improve their safety and reduce their stress during emergencies.

3. Do choose a solution that makes integration easy.

Most organizations use a variety of software and applications. If the mass notification system can’t integrate with them, your communications – and other important functions – will quickly come to a halt. For example, one of the most important steps of a communication plan is to gather accurate contact information for all stakeholders. A modern critical event management platform should seamlessly integrate with existing applications to pull accurate and up-to-date contact details. A self-update portal that allows employees to keep their information current is an added bonus.

4. Do work with an experienced vendor.

An experienced vendor will understand your goals and your pain points. They should consult with you before recommending relevant capabilities and features. Their industry expertise will help foresee the communications issues your organization is likely to face during an emergency, so you can plan accordingly. 

Whether your organization is looking to implement an emergency mass notification system for the first time or you’re shopping for a better mass texting service, these tips will put you on the right path. Effective mass alerting as part of a streamlined critical event management system will help you protect your people, places and property when every minute counts. Download our ebook to learn more about the fundamentals of emergency notification technology and how to choose the right mass notification system for your organization.


OnSolve® proactively mitigates physical threats, allowing organizations to remain agile when a crisis strikes. Using trusted expertise and reliable AI-powered risk intelligence, critical communications and incident management technology, the OnSolve Platform allows organizations to detect, anticipate and mitigate physical threats that impact their people and operations.