SMS for Crisis Communication: Examples & Cautions [2024]

February 19, 2024 | By Sam Pelton
Man receiving emergency SMS

As much as it’s not fun to admit it, this world is full of crises.

Natural dangers. Security breaches. Safety concerns.

And in the midst of that chaos, the power of a simple text message can be transformative. Why? Because in times of crises, clear and swift communication becomes a lifeline that can warn, inform, and provide guidance.

SMS thus becomes an unexpected and unassuming hero.

But how?

We’ll briefly go over the effectiveness of SMS for crisis communication—and how it can give you a quick way to keep a large number of people up to date.

Why SMS Works for a Crisis

SMS works for a crisis because of its famous high read rate.

Just try to think of the last time that you completely ignored a text. (And compare that to, say, email, which you surely ignore on a regular basis.)

On top of that, typing out a quick text blast is easy, it lands in your recipients’ phones almost instantly, and it even shows up as a preview on their screen before they actually open it.

It’s much quicker and more efficient than communication methods such as phone calls.

With all of that going for it, using SMS in a crisis is almost a no-brainer.

Things to Watch Out for with SMS

Even though SMS is one of the most effective ways to reach people, there are a couple of things to keep in mind…

Collecting People’s Phone Numbers

You’ll need a way to accurately collect people’s phone numbers.

Your text alert platform gives you a few options for how to collect phone numbers, so you’ll just need a strategy for how to implement those options.

You can get phone numbers by (1) asking people to text in to your text alert platform’s virtual number, by (2) having them fill out an online form, by (3) having them scan a QR code, by (4) manually adding their phone numbers from a list in whatever other contact database you have, or by (5) automatically loading in numbers via API.

Keep in mind also that people’s phone numbers change, so your list may not always be totally up to date. You can run periodic tests to make sure you have everyone’s updated phone numbers.

Undelivered Messages

Another potential with using SMS is that you may have undelivered messages due to issues such as mobile carrier filtering.

This issue can sometimes be mitigated by taking precautions such as pre-registering your traffic (which you can do by logging into your account and filling out a form).

Due to this potential issue, when sending SMS in crisis situations, it’s recommended to also send corresponding emails in case the SMS fails to deliver for one reason or another.

Examples of SMS for Crisis Communication

So how do businesses and organizations use SMS for crisis communication?

Here are a few examples…

Lightning Near Worksite

Attention! Due to an impending lightning risk, all workers must cease immediately and follow safety protocols until further notice. Please wait for your foreman for further instructions.


[Hurricane Update] All employees who have stayed behind - Please stay safe and follow all safety procedures when out in the field. If you feel unsafe, you may contact your supervisor and you will not be required to work.

Suspicious Activity

All employees on standby. Suspicious man, Caucasian, around 6 ft wearing a red T-shirt and white baseball cap is wandering around the building. Report to a supervisor immediately if you notice any suspicious activity.

Have SMS Available for Your Own Crisis Communication

Interested in the possibility of adding SMS as a communication tool when you have a crisis? Get a free trial here to see how it works (no credit card needed).

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