Are You Prepared For Disaster? A Peek Inside The Crisis Box

Michael Campos
Posted on November 10, 2011

Eron Shosteck’s media expertise and insight come from his experience as a journalist and Capitol Hill press secretary.
Eron Shosteck’s media expertise and insight come from his experience as a journalist and Capitol Hill press secretary.
The Crisis Management In A Box toolkit is a 20-page manual featuring tips, tools and tactics operators can use to deal with the press.

The mainstream media knows very little about the motorcoach industry and defines it based on high-profile crashes and illegal operators, thanks to the media’s macabre mantra, “if it bleeds, it leads,” says the kit’s designer, Eron Shosteck, the former American Bus Association senior vice president of communications, marketing and media relations.

Operators must protect their company’s reputation by effectively responding to the safety distortions appearing in the press. While many operations are “safe, compliant, and obsessed with protecting [their] passengers and drivers from harm, the industry hasn’t communicated that well enough to the media,” Shosteck writes. “In the eyes of the mainstream press, a bus owner is a bus owner — whether a safety steward with an impeccable on-road record, or a motorcoach menace operating illegally and jeopardizing the safety of innocent people.”

There are two types of crises operators need to prepare for:

Direct crisis — a crisis that involves any of your vehicles.

Indirect crisis — a crisis in which your vehicle may not have been involved but which the media will attempt to connect you with, usually as a function of proximity.

When either type of crisis occurs, operators must expect and prepare for a visit from news outlets. Having cameras and microphones thrust into one’s face can be quite unnerving, but operators can turn the challenge into an opportunity and use the attention to show how much their companies are doing for safety.

“Engaging in such a manner will provide you with an opening to define your business in your terms,” Shosteck writes.

The toolkit helps operators prepare for media interactions by listing more than 100 “Crisis Management Questions” operators must be able to address about the following topics:

  • Company snapshot
  • Current driver pre-hiring screening protocols and procedures
  • Crisis management team
  • Direct crisis management
  • Company safety record

The toolkit includes “The Crisis Management Rules of Engagement” — specific tactics on how to deal with reporters — and instructs operators on containment, reclaiming power, and recovery.

The following excerpts are from the “Reclaiming Power” section:

"You can control and change the situation by interviewing the reporter: You have every right to ask about the story angle, who’s been interviewed so far, what those people have said, and what documents and research the reporter is relying on for any data or statistics they plan to cite. This sends a subtle message to the reporter that he or she is dealing with an expert who understands the dynamics of the media game, which will make them careful to quote you accurately and double-check their facts. "

"You control your disposition, what you say and how you say it: You can’t control the questions the media ask, but you control your answers and what you’re quoted as saying, because they can’t quote you on what you don’t say…If you want to be quoted, be quotable; if you don’t want to be quoted, say something so technical or laced with jargon, it’s unusable."

The Media Consultant Group offers several options for the toolkit:

  • Basic Do-It-Yourself Package — everything listed in this article.
  • Company Custom Package — everything listed in this article plus customized components based on the company’s specific needs.
  • Total Engagement Package — everything listed in this article; initial on-site visit by a crisis management expert; creation of a special dossier on every aspect of the operation; additional media training, interview coaching and practice drills; full Media Consultant Group engagement at company’s location to serve as media spokesperson and crisis coordinator for the duration of any event at any time.

Interested parties can learn more at www.mediaconsultantgroup.com.

Related Topics: bus crash, crisis management, Eron Shosteck, handling the media, New Operator

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