Construction projects do not always run as planned, sometimes resulting in emergencies that require immediate reactions. From tornados and hurricanes to roof collapses, I know that emergency response is no easy task. With much to get done, crisis communications used to be the furthest thing from my mind when it came to these types of situations. However, managing the press is key to not only avoiding a public relations disaster, but to protecting your employees and business.
Here are three keys to an effective crisis communications approach:
Isolate the area—You must restrict access to your food manufacturing facility site, shielding it as best you can from cameras, the media and the public. You should prepare and practice emergency access to your plant, as well. Treat it the same way as you do when calling an ambulance to come to your site. Have a member of your personnel designated to come out to the main road and direct vehicles in appropriately.
No pictures—When I was responding to a roof collapse, a photo from inside the plant was leaked to the local news. We knew it couldn’t have been taken by the press due to its location—turns out, the photo was leaked by the responding fire department. During emergency situations, ensure on-site workers and responders are not taking pictures. This can be especially hard to police given how easy it is to snap a quick pic with smartphones. I recommend removing anyone you see taking photos from the site.
Restrict who speaks with the media—Ensure workers and responders do not do interviews with the press. You should direct all interviews to your PR department. These individuals have prepared, vetted responses they can offer which mitigates the risk of revealing confidential information.
In the end, it’s all about protecting yourself, your workers and your customers. Don’t make the mistake of overlooking your project’s crisis communications. If you do, you’re putting your business on the line and you’ll have much more to respond to than just the emergency at hand.
If you’d like to learn more about crisis communications for your food or beverage processing plant, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.