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Communicating during a crisis:
TSB response to Lac-Mégantic
Jacqueline Roy
Director, Communications
6 February 2014
Outline
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

About the TSB
Communicating a transportation accident
Lac-Mégantic accident: background
Communica...
About the TSB
Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) mandate:
To advance transportation safety in the air, marine,
ra...
About the TSB
• 5 Board Members, including the Chair
• 230 employees, 10 offices, across Canada

• Vancouver
• Edmonton
• ...
About the TSB
Three phases of an investigation:
• Field phase
• Examination and analysis phase
• Report phase
• Lac-Mégant...
Communicating a transportation accident
• Transportation accidents ARE News
• They attract a lot of attention from traditi...
Lac-Mégantic accident: background
• July 6, 2013 – runaway train descends into Lac-Mégantic,
Québec, derails and a fire ca...
Lac-Mégantic accident: background
• The human/economic/environmental loss was extensive

8
Lac-Mégantic accident: background
• How do you really prepare for ….

9
Communications strategy
• Launched standard operating procedures
• Enacted crisis communications plan

• Used regular comm...
Communications strategy - First hours
• Assess
• Received various reports and (mis)information about the
accident

• Engag...
Communications strategy - First days
• 3 TSB communications advisors on site
• 15-20 TSB employees on scene in Lac-Méganti...
Communications strategy - First days (cont’d)
• Media events
•
•
•
•
•

Scrum on July 6 (with partners) – deployed investi...
Communications strategy - Following weeks
• Rotated deployed staff in Lac-Mégantic
• Media relations
• Regular media reque...
Communications strategy - Ongoing
•
•
•
•

Regular media requests
Updates/news conferences as required
Briefing/liaising w...
Evaluation
• For most, first time public had heard of the TSB
Media relations
• Prepare regular news and social media anal...
Evaluation (cont’d)
Social Media
• From July 6 to 17
• Twitter - added 1103 followers
• ~600 retweets of information/photo...
Feedback

18
Best practices
External Communications
• Strategic media briefings
• Social media
• Reached new audiences
• Helped manage ...
Best practices (cont’d)
Internal Communications
• Senior management engagement and support
• Updates to employees
• Checki...
Lessons learned
•
•
•
•

Underestimating the event in the very beginning
First scrum wasn’t effective
First news conferenc...
Take aways
• Validate information quickly
• Obtain senior management engagement and support
• Identify and prepare spokesp...
QUESTIONS?

23
24
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Communicating during a crisis: TSB response to Lac-Mégantic - Federal Communicators Network - February 6, 2014

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In this presentation, Jacqueline Roy of Canada's Transportation Safety Board (TSB) describes her experience handling TSB communications related to the Lac-Mégantic rail disaster. This was a joint event hosted by the Federal Communicators Network, Canada's Communications Community Office, and the U.S. General Services Administration.

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Communicating during a crisis: TSB response to Lac-Mégantic - Federal Communicators Network - February 6, 2014

  1. 1. Communicating during a crisis: TSB response to Lac-Mégantic Jacqueline Roy Director, Communications 6 February 2014
  2. 2. Outline • • • • • • • • About the TSB Communicating a transportation accident Lac-Mégantic accident: background Communications strategy Evaluation Best practices Lessons learned Take aways 2
  3. 3. About the TSB Transportation Safety Board of Canada (TSB) mandate: To advance transportation safety in the air, marine, rail, and pipeline modes of transportation that are under federal jurisdiction by: • • • • • conducting independent investigations identifying safety deficiencies identifying causes and contributing factors making recommendations publishing reports 3
  4. 4. About the TSB • 5 Board Members, including the Chair • 230 employees, 10 offices, across Canada • Vancouver • Edmonton • Calgary • Winnipeg • Toronto • Ottawa • Gatineau (HQ) • Montréal • Quebec • Halifax 4
  5. 5. About the TSB Three phases of an investigation: • Field phase • Examination and analysis phase • Report phase • Lac-Mégantic investigation is moving to report writing phase • If we identify safety deficiencies during an investigation, we don’t wait for the final report to communicate that information to the industry, regulator and public 5
  6. 6. Communicating a transportation accident • Transportation accidents ARE News • They attract a lot of attention from traditional and non-traditional media outlets • 24/7 news cycle • Constant pressure to update stories for websites, blogs and news for morning, noon, evening drive and night air times • TSB has many ways to publish information • Newswire, website, Flickr, Twitter, YouTube, blog • TSB must be accessible and transparent 6
  7. 7. Lac-Mégantic accident: background • July 6, 2013 – runaway train descends into Lac-Mégantic, Québec, derails and a fire causes mass destruction • Majority of downtown Lac-Mégantic is destroyed • Several businesses were lost • Environmental damage was widespread • 47 people were fatally injured 7
  8. 8. Lac-Mégantic accident: background • The human/economic/environmental loss was extensive 8
  9. 9. Lac-Mégantic accident: background • How do you really prepare for …. 9
  10. 10. Communications strategy • Launched standard operating procedures • Enacted crisis communications plan • Used regular communications (traditional and social media) – but upped the frequency of communications and details released • Adjusted to being involved in the top media story nationally (as well as in the top 3 internationally) 10
  11. 11. Communications strategy - First hours • Assess • Received various reports and (mis)information about the accident • Engage senior management • Mobilize and act • Determined first steps • Decided who deployed and when • Released key information as soon as possible • Liaise/reach out • Made contact with key communications partners (TC, SQ, EC, etc) 11
  12. 12. Communications strategy - First days • 3 TSB communications advisors on site • 15-20 TSB employees on scene in Lac-Mégantic • 3 NTSB employees launched to Lac-Mégantic • Daily tactic meetings • Internal communications • Media relations • Non-stop media requests • Surge capacity of communications team 12
  13. 13. Communications strategy - First days (cont’d) • Media events • • • • • Scrum on July 6 (with partners) – deployed investigator Stand up on July 7 (with partners) – lead investigators News conference on July 9 – lead investigators News conference on July 12 – Chair/COO News conference on July 19 – lead investigators • Website – active investigation page • Social media • Twitter/Flickr 13
  14. 14. Communications strategy - Following weeks • Rotated deployed staff in Lac-Mégantic • Media relations • Regular media requests • Media events • News conference on August 1 • News conference on September 11 • News conference on January 23 • Simultaneous communications with NTSB • Website • Social media • Twitter/Flickr 14
  15. 15. Communications strategy - Ongoing • • • • Regular media requests Updates/news conferences as required Briefing/liaising with stakeholders Preparation for eventual investigation report release • • • • Communications products Visual aids (videos/animation) Location/logistics Briefings (next of kin, town of Lac-Mégantic, other stakeholders) 15
  16. 16. Evaluation • For most, first time public had heard of the TSB Media relations • Prepare regular news and social media analyses • Rail safety remains top of mind for Canadians • To date, received ~500 media requests • We have responded to all Website • More than 100,000 page views of the communications products on TSB website in over 6 months • Majority in first week, then @ each media announcement • Twitter drives a lot of traffic to our website 16
  17. 17. Evaluation (cont’d) Social Media • From July 6 to 17 • Twitter - added 1103 followers • ~600 retweets of information/photos • Flickr - 204,000 views of all photos • Top photo (27,103 views) • YouTube – TSB videos viewed 8,445 times (most viewed – 2 rail videos) • Blog - viewed 320 times (unrelated to the accident) • Ongoing – social media activity is very well received by media and public 17
  18. 18. Feedback 18
  19. 19. Best practices External Communications • Strategic media briefings • Social media • Reached new audiences • Helped manage the message - tweeted key messages throughout announcements • Controlled photos • Identification of primary spokespeople (reserved for key media) and overflow support from across Rail branch • Maintenance of evergreen media lines for spokespeople • Updated website 19
  20. 20. Best practices (cont’d) Internal Communications • Senior management engagement and support • Updates to employees • Checking on the team’s well-being regularly • Health officials in Lac-Mégantic and in-office follow-up • Rotated on-the-ground communications support • Mobile office / command post 20
  21. 21. Lessons learned • • • • Underestimating the event in the very beginning First scrum wasn’t effective First news conference didn’t go as smoothly as hoped Identifying potential shortfalls • Seeking MOUs with other government departments for future surge capacity • Worst-case scenario: outside example 21
  22. 22. Take aways • Validate information quickly • Obtain senior management engagement and support • Identify and prepare spokespeople • Maintain dialogue with key stakeholders • Communicate, communicate, communicate • Use many different media – not everyone receives information the same 22
  23. 23. QUESTIONS? 23
  24. 24. 24

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