Trained officers make for a watertight media response

Media training can prepare your officers as your first line of defence with the media.

As the curtain closed on 2016, Navigate Response’s Singapore office went through a flurry of end of year training sessions with the majority held in conjunction with client’s annual Officer Training seminars.

From Manilla to Mumbai, Singapore to Shanghai, the destinations tend to depend on the chosen crewing centres for the operators. Traditionally these were just an opportunity for companies to instil and reinforce safety standards, the company ethos and discuss operational issues however increasingly savvy operators are injecting a media training component for their people in the front line.

Consider the mechanics of a shipping incident, it’s the officers and crew on board the vessel that are, in their own way, the first responders.

They deal with the emergency as it happens and raise the alarm with the company about the situation. They enact the years of training that they’ve received to ensure the safety of themselves and their fellow crew members, they follow the procedures to minimise the damage to the vessel and the environment.

But very few of them will know what to do to help minimise the potential damage to the company’s reputation.

Regardless of the experience and expertise of your media responders or the coolness and charisma on camera of your senior management, if the damage has been done early, if the proverbial cat is out of the bag because of the crew, then you’re already reacting to the damage done rather than proactively managing the situation. This can be fatal for a hard-earned reputation.

Social media is of course the biggest pitfall, a posted video of an incident can instantly go viral and become global news, but media attention can also grow from a far subtler seed.
A simple message to loved ones about an evacuation, or the naming of a fallen workmate in a tribute, can trigger a media feeding frenzy in the continually monitored digital world. Other dangers include phone calls from enquiring journalists, a media scrum as they return to port and unwanted media advances to family and friends. Often the secret for sailors during a crisis is what NOT to do rather than what to do.

Arm your staff with an interactive media seminar session for officers with clear do’s and don’ts, templates for dealing with media and examples of the damage that can be done to career and company.

Just because officers and crew are world travelled, doesn’t mean they’re worldly. In many ways life at sea is a bubble-like existence which shields sailors from the constant churn of 24-hour news cycles, viral videos and information overload.

A short, simple, straightforward training session steels them to channel media enquiries to your chosen spokespeople and reinforces the perception of a professional and capable company.

The other huge advantage of these sessions is that they reaffirm to seafaring staff that the company has their back in times of crisis and that engenders trust and loyalty.

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Andrew Leahy

senior consultant
Author