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How to Manage Crisis Situations with a Two-Person Media Team Adrienne Hamilton, Senior Communications Specialist
About Denton County Transportation Authority • Primary Denton County transportation agencyproviding the following services: • A-train Commuter Rail • Denton and Lewisville Connect Bus • Highland Village Connect Shuttle and Community On-Demand • Access • Frisco Demand-Response • University of North Texas (UNT) and North Central Texas College (NCTC) Campus Shuttles • Vanpool • Small Marketing & Communications Department • Vice President of Marketing and Communications and Senior Communications Specialist manage communications efforts (two-person media team only)
DCTA Strategic crisis plan and strategy Guidelines, Code Structure and Team Responsibilities
DCTA Crisis Communications Strategy and Guidelines • Provides procedures for the coordination of communications both internally and externally • Outlines roles, responsibilities and protocols • Helps with management of the agency during crisis situations
DCTA Media Team & Responsibilities Nicole Recker, Vice President of Marketing and Communications • Determine if immediate response to media is appropriate • Make preliminary assessment on scope of incident and level of media interest • Lead development of talking points • Approve media materials • Keep Senior Communications Specialist well-informed during crisis • Manage on-site media on-camera interviews • Activate command center Adrienne Hamilton, Senior Communications Specialist • Assist with developing talking points • Handle media inquiries • Answer initial media calls • Notify VP of Marketing & Communications of any interview requests and media headed to the scene • Develop and distribute media materials • Communicate approved messaging via Rider Alerts, social media and DCTA website • Conduct post-crisis reporting
Crisis Communications Code Structure • Transit risks can be framed in six key categories: • Accidents and incidents • Acts of nature • Loss of organizational infrastructure • Hazardous materials • Criminal activity • Domestic and international terrorism • DCTA has developed a code-based structure to help determine the severity of any crisis situation: • GREEN • YELLOW • RED
Rail Fatality crisis Overview, Challenges Faced and Management of Crisis
Rail Fatality Crisis Overview: Code Red Implementation • August 6, 2015 at 8:50 a.m. • Pedestrian driver collided with the A-train. • 23 passengers on the train; no one harmed. • Driver was taken to an area hospital for assessment and treatment. • Suspended service to remove the train from the tracks and operated a bus bridge to continue operations. • Rail mechanics arrived on the scene to re-rail the train. Full train service was reinstated at 1:15 p.m. • Driver passed away later that afternoon.
Rail Fatality Crisis Overview: On-the-Scene & Behind-the-Scene Management • DCTA had a divide and conquer strategy: • “On the Scene” – Nicole Recker • Stationed at the scene of the incident • Gathered and shared on-the-scene facts to crisis team • Conducted all in-person interviews • Approved media materials • “Behind the Scenes” – Adrienne Hamilton • Managed the command center • Handled triage of media inquiries using approved talking points • Developed and distributed media materials • Prepped Nicole for incoming interviews/calls • Monitored all media coverage/online conversations
Rail Fatality Crisis Overview: Traditional and Digital Media Outreach • Media Talking Points • Developed for media inquiries to be used by “on-the-scene” and “behind-the-scenes” media personnel. • Official Media Materials • News release highlighting details of incident and aftermath, key DCTA safety messaging and operations update. • Official company statement after death of pedestrian driver. • Final company statement after official investigation report. • Passenger Communication • Rider Alerts sent to keep riders up-to-date with bus bridge activation, A-train delays, etc. • Social Media Outreach – Online Communication • Included Rider Alert and media messaging: • Safety message highlighted • Incident vs. Fatality • Route, bus bridge updates
Media coverage samples Social and Traditional Media
Rail Fatality Crisis Overview: Conclusion • Successfully followed set crisis roles • “On the scene” and “Behind the scenes” • The command center properly activated and managed • All media inquiries and interviews handled promptly and on message (online, social, email, etc.) • All media coverage and online conversations maintained a factual, neutral tone • 60 total media stories • Nearly nine million media impressions • Conducted post-crisis evaluation, which included: • Media Contact Log • Social Media Report • Traditional Coverage Report • SUSTAINED MESSAGING DURING/AFTER INCIDENT: • Passenger safety is the upmost priority to DCTA • Highlighting DCTA safety programs for incident prevention • Sincere condolences to the family of the deceased driver • DCTA is a safe mode transportation
Rail Fatality Crisis Overview: Key Takeaways • Establish strategic crisis communications plan • Define roles for your two-person media team: • “On the scene” • “Behind the scenes” • Determine severity of crisis situation to properly manage • Keep lines of communications open at all times • Be prepared for challenges • Conduct post-crisis evaluation
Contact Information: Adrienne Hamilton, DCTA Senior Communications Specialist Phone: 972.316.6114 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org