MyRagan blogger Ted Vollmuth shares eight communication strategies he found valuable in a time of crisis
While working as a public information officer for an Ohio utility company, the unthinkable happened.
A nine year old boy stepped behind a chain link fence on a bridge under construction and touched a decades-old street light standard. Within seconds, a young life was snuffed out.
The unusual accident threatened to seriously damage the image of the utility. Almost immediately, utility crews and a throng of media outlets were at the bridge. Of course, the media wanted immediate answers.
Lessons we learned
1) Be prepared to handle media inquiries and take action. The news media’s first question was, “What caused this?” The utility’s response was, “We have been unable to find the source of the electricity that resulted in the electrocution. We are going to hire a forensic expert in electricity related deaths to find answers.”
The bridge was closed to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic. Utility crews took steps to check every light on the bridge for an electrical charge. An expert was called in to do testing, which showed a suspicious hotspot in the sidewalk directly in front of the light in question.