Be Prepared for the Media When Tragedy Strikes
Known as the fourth deadliest industry, Waste and Recycling is associated with deaths more often than it should be. When tragic losses happen, such as children being hit and killed by city garbage trucks, negative press is expected to follow. This re-enforces an already negative opinion of trash haulers.
For recyclers, common tragedies include employees getting caught in balers, shredders and grinders while trying to feed the machine or unstick jams. Although these occurrences are unexpected accidents, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re ready to communicate the situation to the community.
As a sneak peak to the crisis response plan Assurance recommends (you can contact an Assurance ‘A’ Team member to learn more), it’s important to first understand the stages of a crisis:
- Stage One
Crisis begins with the initial incident, confusion, sometimes panic. The Crisis Management Team must act quickly.
- Stage Two
This stage should ideally come within the first hour of the incident. The lapse of time between Stage One and Stage Two can sometimes have a more damaging effect on a company's image than the actual disaster at hand. The longer you wait to communicate to your anxious public, owners, customers, employees, the media -- the greater the opportunities for speculation, accusations, and doubtfulness of the company’s credibility when an announcement is finally made. Stage Two can last several hours or several days, depending on the duration of the crisis situation, and the number of update announcements necessary.
- Stage Three
This stage includes the aftermath. Investigations begin, insurance and legal departments become involved. Feedback can come from your public in the form of telephone inquiries, letters, lack of sales, boycotts, and more. You must attempt to resume business and restore a good public image and credibility.
How we fare during a crisis may be heavily dependent upon previous media relations, policies regarding media inquiries and the public’s present perception of the company. Before a crisis, it’s important to establish a relationship with media in your community on a professional basis. After a tragedy shouldn’t be the first time you talk to the media. A good rapport with media can help you get your job done effectively and with as little damage as possible. But, do keep in mind their business is to ask questions, even those you might not like to answer.
Most importantly, keep in mind that bad news travels fast. The worse the news, the faster it travels and the sooner you’ll hear from a reporter. However, the media can help you communicate the truth to your community in a professional and respectful way.
Our ‘A’ Team has an entire outline on crisis management media guidelines. Contact us today for more information.
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