In co-operation with Dustin Eno, COO & Crisis Response Manager at Navigate Response, the Swedish P&I Club Emergency Response Training programme proposes 10 steps to crisis media management.
43% of seafarers now have access to broadband at sea and many more have mobile phones with data connections when close to land. Away from family and friends for extended periods, seafarers are active on social platforms ranging from the mainstream Facebook, Twitter and YouTube platforms, to the less well known, such as Path, CrewToo, and even online dating sites.
In this context, a social media policy is an essential document for both seafarers and shore staff, but unfortunately many social media policies are so ineffective as to be virtually useless. Social media policies are notoriously difficult to enforce because it is nearly impossible (and potentially illegal) to monitor the full extent of an employee’s online activity.
In this context, the Club recommends the following:
- Evaluate the potential for media interest
- Prepare a brief statement
- Begin media and social media monitoring
- Engage with journalists and the public
- Notify your stakeholders
- Prepare and updated statement
- Identify key players involved in the incident
- Put a human face on your company
- Repeat step 3 to 6 as often and for as long as required
- Analyse any reputational damage
According to the Club, incidents occur on vessels every day and most receive no media attention. Warning signs that an incident might attract attention include:
- The situation is visible to a social media savvy audience (e.g. a listing vessel or flames).
- There are significant impacts beyond the vessel itself (e.g. pollution, damage to infrastructure or serious injuries).
- Your story fits into a larger ongoing issue (e.g. environmental concerns in the Artic or the Mediterranean refugee crisis).
- Passengers are involved either on your vessel or on another vessel
- The situation is in some way ridiculous or amusing (e.g. officer of the watch was on Facebook during collision).
The Club also cites some important dos and don’ts for companies when developing a policy:
- Keep the policy short – less than a page. Longer policies probably won’t be read and are therefore largely worthless.
- Make a memorable presentation of the policy (e.g. at a seastaff conference). Policies, especially social media policies, are easily ignored because people wrongly assume they already know what they say.
- Include the rationale for policy points which may not be obvious; people are much more likely to follow guidance when they understand the ‘why?’.
- Highlight the importance of distinguishing personal positions from company positions. For example, your employees can post pictures of themselves on their own pages at political rallies, but they should not have the company logo on their shirt.
- Include guidance about discrimination and hate speech, especially pertaining to racial, sexual, religious and other slurs.
- Highlight issues of confidentiality, sensitive information and breaking news – employees should never share this kind of information via social media.
- Encourage employees to be your eyes and ears online. They should alert the communications team to any posts they think might be problematic for the company.
Further details may be found in the following document: