When an emergency or serious incident occurs, there is always the possibility that reporters or television crews may arrive at the scene. These situations don’t occur very often, but when they do an organization’s response can have a long lasting impact on its public image – positive or negative. None of us can predict when such an event will occur, but there are steps we can take to prepare and ensure that all employees know what to do and how to respond in these situations.
Since these events occur unexpectedly, establish a policy and procedure within your organization that addresses how media interactions should be handled. Be sure to include the following in this documentation and any related communications and training:
- Who is authorized to speak with the media; and
- Steps employees should take when contacted by the media, including who they should notify.
If an incident occurs at a facility you are responsible for, advise employees to do the following:
- Be cordial. Employees should use their best customer service skills and make every attempt to connect the media with appropriate personnel without commenting directly on the incident and while avoiding statements like “no comment”.
- Make short, cooperative statements, like “I can help you by contacting my manager who will have the answers to all your questions. Can I have your contact information to give to him/her?”
- Contact their manager immediately.
If a Manager finds herself in a situation where she has no choice but to communicate with the media:
- Ask where and how the interview information will be used; where it will appear and what the reporter’s deadline is. Reporters will be much more collaborative with you if you approach the interview as a partner, not an adversary.
- If people were negatively impacted by the incident, state that the organization’s primary concern is for the well being and safety for all involved.
- If the response to a question is not known, say so and then obtain the answer and respond as soon as possible. Do not speculate or give an opinion as to what took place.
- Give only the factual account of the event.
- Notify the designated role within your organization that manages external communications, other managers, the client (if applicable) and customers (if necessary).
- If it seems likely that the press may contact a colleague, notify that person.
Are you interested in more information about incident response or communications best practices? uDrive subscribers have access to tools and templates that can help. These can be found in the Resources for the Parking Operation and Organizational Performance sections of the site.