Navigating through a wildlife crisis is no easy task, especially when the well-being of both animals and humans is at stake. Years back, at Jungle Island, we encountered a unique scenario that tested our crisis communication strategies and ultimately strengthened our bond with the media and our audience.
The Unforeseen Crisis at Jungle Island and Our Swift Response
It began as a typical day, until suddenly, it was anything but. While en route to a meeting at Jungle Island, I received a call about an incident involving a playful orangutan, a volunteer, and an unexpected injury. Within mere minutes, news crews were descending on the scene, all while my phone was abuzz with requests for insights on the situation. The PR challenge was unfolding in real time.
Unwrapping Our 7-Step Crisis Management Plan
1. Building Trustful Media Relations:
Our pre-established, trusted relationships with media outlets became our ally. By consistently sharing Jungle Island stories and involving journalists in behind-the-scenes animal interactions, we established not only a dependable reputation but also a recognizable face in times of crisis.
2. Ensuring Swift Communication:
As the media swarmed, asking for a response, we guaranteed an official statement within the hour and supplied a temporary holding statement to manage expectations.
3. Crafting a Compassionate Official Statement:
A well-drafted, empathetic, and factual official statement was rapidly disseminated through digital and print media channels.
4. Delivering Unified Messaging:
The statement laid the foundation for extensive talking points which were used by our spokesperson and communicated via the company’s website, social media, and among employees to help dispel any rumors.
5. Thorough Spokesperson Preparation:
Our spokesperson was well-prepped with the approved talking points and all interactions with the media were handled in a controlled environment to ensure consistent messaging.
6. Exhibiting Transparency and Empathy:
We were open about every aspect of the incident, expressing genuine concern, detailing the medical response for the volunteer, and committing to reassessing internal procedures to ensure safety in the future.
7. Conducting Ongoing Monitoring:
Post-incident, media coverage and social media conversations were actively scrutinized, ensuring our communication strategy remained adaptive and responsive.
Controlling the Narrative through Proactive Crisis Management
By having a crisis communications plan in place, Jungle Island was able not only to respond effectively to the crisis but also to guide the narrative. Ensuing media coverage was balanced and underscored our genuine concern and proactive approach amidst trying times. This just shows the vital role that comprehensive crisis management plays in environments where the unexpected is always around the corner.