Strengthening a Crisis Comms Plan Amid Disruptions
By Tom Ciuba
The freight rail industry has faced a fair share of challenges in the nine years I’ve been a part of it — from extreme shifts in traffic levels due to the pandemic’s impact on the global supply chain to labor shortages and expectations of enhanced pay and benefits.
But nothing has cast a spotlight on railroading quite as much as the recent derailments across the country — placing the entire industry under scrutiny from the public and media as well as local, state and federal governments alike. (For context, on one single mid-February day, I received nearly three dozen media inquiries regarding the safety of my company’s railroads and our derailment-prevention practices.)
Rail transportation is safe. According to data curated by the Association of American Railroads (AAR):
- 99.9% of hazardous materials shipped via rail arrive at their destination without incident.
- The overall derailment rate for U.S. railroads has decreased 31% since 2000.
- The American freight rail industry reports lower employee injury rates than the trucking, airline, construction and even grocery store sectors.
Still, as with most industries, accidents can occur. When they do, a broad, thorough and up-to-date crisis communications strategy helps your team and organization navigate choppy waters ahead and come out the other side — perhaps scathed but not sunk.
If you’re anything like me, then you’ve seized the moment to dust off or even overhaul your crisis communications plan. Here are some considerations to feel better prepared for the unexpected:
This article is exclusive to PRSA members. Please sign in to continue reading.
Not a member?
Join PRSA to read more articles like this and to advance your communications career.
Print subscriptions to Strategies & Tactics are available for nonmembers.