By Rachel Zetwick
This past summer, I was a PR and Marketing Coordinator at the Ohio State Fair. During the first night of the Fair, a ride malfunctioned and killed an 18-year-old man and injured seven. As soon as I got back to my desk after the accident, I received calls from NBC’s “Today” show, CNN and multiple local news networks.
While my team and I learned about the importance of crisis communication under very dire circumstances, we left with new skills we did not expect to gain. Here are my three biggest takeaways from my crisis communication experience:
1. Have a plan in place
Before the Fair, all employees attended a crisis communication meeting to prepare for a variety of potential crises. We collaborated with emergency staff, created a group communication system and shared documents that detailed plans for all aspects of the Fair.
2. Treat media to the same standard
After the accident, we created a staging area for the media to go live and take B-roll. We made sure that all networks and reporters had the same access to footage so we did not give anyone preferential treatment.
3. Think about your scheduled content
During the months before the Fair, we scheduled numerous Facebook posts, press releases and blog posts. We immediately changed our editorial calendar so that we did not provide insensitive information to our audiences.