Some of your most visible company spokespeople may not have an ounce of media training. We’re not talking about your executive leaders but your gatekeepers—your security guards, operators, receptionists, and anyone who is an intermediary between your company and the public. The importance of their engagement is often overlooked.
During normal operations, the first impression of your company starts with them. Something as innocuous as a smile, friendly disposition, and helpful demeanor from a guard while checking you into a facility can brighten a visitor’s day and, in turn, their initial thoughts about your business.
Their value amplifies in a crisis. They may be the first people to field phone calls or encounter reporters. Not only do they need to be trained on what to say, but they should have training on how to act.
Imagine this: a crisis hits and all internal attention is turned towards the emergency. A news station shows up at the front gate, and a well-meaning security guard trying to protect the company grabs the recording camera to stop filming. The footage of the hand covering the camera and pushing it downward is aired on the 10 p.m. news story about your company. Public perception has shifted from your emergency to you hiding something.
A quick communications lesson with these valuable workers could make all the difference for your company’s reputation in both good times and bad. Here are some topics to cover with your key company representatives:
- In an emergency, are your gatekeepers notified immediately? Are they aware of where they should direct families, media, community members, and/or other inquiries?
- How should they engage with the public on a daily basis? What are the ideal behaviors and actions the company expects of them as representatives of the company and its brand?
- How does body language give off a good or bad perception of them and the company?
- If reporters contact them, where would they direct the media? What should they do if no one answers?
- Where would they direct a news crew, upset relative, or community member, if they showed up at the gate?
- What would they say if a news crew started recording their interaction?
- What are the basic do’s and don’ts of interacting with the media? What should they say? Is there a script they should follow when speaking to the media?
- Hand out a wallet reference card for key team members to keep on hand. Click here for a template.
It’s a great opportunity to learn from your team’s experiences and further develop your crisis communications planning to anticipate issues based on their feedback. Include gatekeepers in your crisis drills and, most importantly, reward them for a job well done. They are crucial to protecting your facility from potential threats—both physically and reputationally. Let them know they are valued!
futureAlign can help. Crisis communications are what we do…along with leadership coaching, employee engagement, and more. Drop a line to me, and we’ll see how we can help! Reach me at Jennifer@futurealign.com.