MDIA3008 Crisis Communications Leadership Presentation


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Jade Bae
Jessica Tran

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  • This imposed restriction proved restrictive throughout the duration of the incident despite strong efforts by Mike Lester of CPR who later became the contracted media adviser to BMJV
  • Union officials initially discussed their proposed media interviews with mine management, agreeing to leave the issue of blame until the rescue of the trapped minersUnionists later broke these conditions – appeared on Richard Carlton’s last story on 60 Minutes openly blaming mine management for sending miners into “bad ground”
  • Jade endGill developed better media awareness skills throughout the slow rescue process, making regular appearances at media conferences (even immediately fronting the media after a visit to the rescue site dressed in his overalls, mining vest and belt and holding a miners helmet with a lamp) – his practical involvement adding a level of credibility to his role as a spokesperson
  • Jess startho were already working long shifts underground in hazardous conditions to find their missing workmates increasingly grew sensitive against the media contingentMine staff erected large tarpaulins around the boundary fences and legs of the mine head, limiting media access to vision and photographsMiners made a decision that no miners – incl. those in charge of the rescue, NSW mine rescue experts and NSW paramedics who were advising Tasmania Ambulance Service Staff – would be interviewed by the media until after the rescue of Webb and Russell
  • Jess endBMJV’s move to limit media access = consistent flying of media helicopters over the mine site (even drowning out conferences related to the underground rescue at the mine operations room)No-fly zone implementation failed and the sound of helicopters remained constant over the area during the protracted incident
  • JadestartThe public park around the Museum carpark, mine boundary and West Tamar Council Chambers became a camping ground for the fast growing media contingent with an explosion of hired campervans, broadcast vans and media tents after the discovery of Webb and RussellDuring gale force winds, driving rain and sleet, a small hall became the media centre and a majority of interviews took place amid a tight crush of journalists and cameras (a media scrum), proving daunting for some spokespeople fronting the media for the first time, but this was unavoidable considering the inclement weather
  • Jade endWith the search operation continuing nearly a km underground, there was very little to fill the news bulletins or newspapers with either vision or imagesCompetitive nature of the media – particularly between Ch. 7 and Ch. 9 gave rise to rumours of cash offers of up to $10,000 for miners on the rescue team to take images and vision of the underground rescue areaLed to bag searches of all miners before their shifts – added stress for an already difficult situation
  • Port Arthur Massacre – GillSupport- Gill was original spokesperson but had no media experience and was reluctant to engage the media (also was very busy, needing to supervise the rescue processes, liaise with mining staff, their families as well as the media contingent)BMJV’s Mike Lester (previously was a state political reporter handling media relations for former Tasmanian Premier, the late Jim Bacon)Tony Scott (Department of Premier and Cabinet – government media staff)Constable Phil Pyke (Tasmania Police)Shaun Rigby (Department of Premier and Cabinet)
  • Jess endAs the crisis unfolded Slowly started producing spokespeople who had worked underground and been in communication with the trapped miners (paramedics from Tasmania Ambulance Service proved popular)Presenting Mayor of West Tamar, Barry Easther, as the reassuring face of the local community- Became a much-sought after spokesperson (regular appearances on Sunrise and Today)- Limited media experience but had a strong on-air presence and steered away from speculation or judgement (saving BMJV from negative press)Initially had a deal union officials from AWU agreeing to leave the issue of blame until after the rescue of the trapped miners – although this was later breached by the unionists who appeared on 60 Minutes openly blaming mine management for sending the miners into “bad ground”, this was a good prevention tactic employed by BMJV to actively protect their reputation
  • About Mike Lester: startNegotiations with mine management to take down some of the tarpaulins on the boundary fences and seek approval for camera crews to film the mine head and yard from a viewing platform at the Museum which overlooked the areaGave the media different image and vision platformsThe idea to position a television camera and a photographer to obtain pool vision on the extraction of Webb and Russell arose (previous requests to mine mgmt for pool vision and images from underground had been refused but the viewing platform was a non-obtrusive and ideal position with the Museum prepared to cut out a section of their fence)Somewhat limited the helicopter presence
  • Jade startInitial discussions occurred with the Tasmanian Ambulance Service, psychologist and mine staff revolved around decoy ambulances and other methods to prevent the media covering the extractionThese discussions halted and further negotiations between the mine rescue staff and the families of the trapped miners took place, approving the pool site to be opened to the media which proved to be a crucial step in effectively managing the media (so that they would not make rash decisions for the sake of getting coverage) – pool site allowed for restricted but controlled media access as opposed to no media accessA successful concession was achieved (later majorly impacting the coverage of the extraction): the departure of ambulances containing Webb and Russell through the mine gates and down the road through the middle of the media campMedia networks could broadcast live as the gates openedAmbulances could roll out through an honour guard of rescue minersOrganised the extraction so that spokespeople (incl. senior mine rescue staff) would be available for comment immediately as the ambulances departed the mine – this was a deliberate move as part of their media management plan so that they could prevent the media from chasing the ambulances along the highway to the Launceston HospitalPolice officers also stationed at the bottom of West St to use as delay for any pursuing crews – but no crews undertook any pursuit given their access to Webb and Russell after they stepped from the shaft lift
  • Jade endMedia mgmt in the final stages became a police operationCarpark, media camp and public park were barricaded off as media marshalling areasEach network had their own site + a pool area for TV cameras and photographersPrior permission from Government media advisors required for any camera crew or photographer wishing to step over the barricades during the ambo departure to cover public reactionAt the Launceston General Hospital:Government media team was ready and in place at the hospitalMedia operations were allocated a specific areaArrangements made through BMJV’s Mike Lester to notify the media once miners were rescued via SMSthis can be a point for recommendations – they could have achieved this level of organisation from the beginning – they obviously didn’t have a crisis communication plan in place)
  • Jade endProducers and senior journalists called to a meeting at the West Tamar Council (5th May) where the media management plan for the extraction was explained to them (including their restrictions regarding the pool site and the strict enforcements against cheating) – made sure media were aware of their T&CsPool vision and images allowed for management of excessive media intrusion to the rescue effortsRemoval of hidden cameras News Ltd: mine staff located a web camera mounted on the façade of Grubb Shaft, overlooking the mine head – BMJV removed the camera and contacted News Ltd, resulting in strong discussions between News Ltd management and Government media staffCh. 7: a remote camera was mounted on a teleboom that the network often raised over the rear fence of the mine yard – mine staff retaliated by raising the tarpaulins higher – affected other photographers out of their ideal positions (ruining the opportunity for other networks who inevitably would have scolded Ch. 7 would have created social pressure to abide to the rules)Leaving ambulance doors open – proved an added coup for media crews
  • Jess startDuring:Initially didn’t wish to engage the media, providing press releases from a Sydney-based communications company (there was no spokespeople available at the scene despite major media organisations starting to arrive which signalled the need for a greater media provision) AWU took over the media at first with readily available media spokespersons but Gill eventually started to provide press conferenecesHowever he was busy organising the actual rescue mission and only offered press conferences every 24-48 hours – he eventually adapted to media presence adding credibility to his role as a spokesperson by fronting the media straight after coming back from being underground near the miners etc.After: Media got the coverage they wanted through pooled mediaThe men continued to enjoy fame after the crisis even sellign their story into a movieMedia reports years on do not negatively frame the media management of BMJV
  • Care response – expression of sympathy, information about corrective actions, counsellingA clearer spokesperson from the beginning of the crisis (so the unionists don’t take control of the situation)Gill could have had more frequent media conferences (one every 24-48 hours wasn’t a lot)
  • Jess end
  • The facilitation approach to media liaison gained the confidence of the media during the protracted nature of the rescueInternational journalist, Hugh Williams from CNN who also came to report applauded the overall management process
  • MDIA3008 Crisis Communications Leadership Presentation

    2. 2. WHAT IS MEDIA MANAGEMENT?“The media are the primary conduit to the publicand, during a crisis, are obligated to reportaccurately and completely. Rather than viewingthe media as a liability in a crisis situation, riskand crisis communicators should engage themedia, through open and honestcommunication, and use the media as a strategicresource to aid in managing the crisis.”- Seeger, 2007
    4. 4. SUMMARY OF EVENTS• Earthquake triggers a rockfall atBeaconsfield gold mine.• Fourteen miners escape, threemissing.• Miner‟s body found.• Contact and rescue of Brant Webband Todd Russell, miners whosurvived.• After ____ days, rescue workersusing mining tools finally breakthrough to the two trapped men andthe men are finally free on the 9thMay.
    5. 5. MEDIA RESPONSE• Unusually high level of activity from mainland-based media and lcoal media• Major networks sent crews for news, current affairs programs and morningshows• Channel 9, 60 Minutes, News Ltd. publications
    6. 6. Who were the keystakeholders?What were the needsthat the team needed tomeet?
    7. 7. KEY STAKEHOLDERSThe Beaconsfield Mine Joint Venture (management and staff)Allstate Explorations NL (the managing body of the Beaconsfield Mine)The West Tamar CouncilTasmania Police and emergency servicesDepartment of Justice (Coroner‟s Office)Workplace StandardsChief Inspector of MinesAustralian Worker‟s UnionTasmanian Minerals CouncilLaunceston General HospitalThe missing miners and their familiesThe wider West Tamar communityResponding media
    8. 8. SCCT RECOMMENDATIONSSituational crisis communication- Viewed as accident, they should have done this and this.All victims/potential victims should receive instructing information, including recallinformation. (This is one-half of the base response to a crisis)All victims should be provided with an expression of sympathy, any informationabout corrective actions, and trauma counselling when needed. This can becalled the “care response”. (This is the second-half of the base response to acrisis)
    9. 9. MEDIA NEEDSThe need to:a) Protect reputationsb) Engage the mediac) Satisfy the legal needsof the administration tolimit certain information
    10. 10. ISSUE #1: THE ADMINISTRATION AND THE‘INFORMATION VACUUM’• BMJV and AllstateExplorations NL (themanaging body of theBeaconsfield Mine) wereplaced in administration someyears earlier (despiteBeaconsfield containing therichest gold bearing ore in thecountry)• Imposed restriction by themine administrator who waspresent at the mine offices leftan „information vacuum‟ forthe media
    11. 11. BEACONSFIELD MINE DISASTERINITIAL MEDIA RESPONSE• BMVL generated media releases viaSydney-based communicationsspecialist via Tasmania Police Mediaand Marketing• Info flowed with reasonable regularity –but some MRs disseminated aftermidnight, outside the news cycle ofTasmania based media• PoC for BMJV was the Sydney-basedspecialist• Absence of a spokesperson at the mine• Initial reluctance by minemanager, Matthew Gill, to engagemedia because of the administrativeneeds to limit information
    12. 12. RESULT OF THE ‘INFORMATION VACUUM’• Australian Worker‟s Union (AWU)gained credibility• AWU national secretary, BillShorten, and official Paul Howesalways available for engagement withmedia.• Alternative information source notverified by officials.• Union officials initially discussedproposed media interviews with minemanagement, agreeing to leave theissue of blame until rescue.• Went to media openly blaming minemanagement on 60 minutes
    13. 13. • Centralized source of informationis often preferred by the media.• A person with official status andrelevant expertise to convey themost credible, authoritative EPIavailable and to interpret andclarify complexity for generalreporter.• Reduce public panic, cut down onspeculation about a disaster fromall quarters, and facilitatecommunication among those witha need to know.- Sod & Stockdale, 1987
    14. 14. AWU VS. GILL• Limited resources• Multiple responsibilities: supervise the rescue processes, liasewith mining staff, their families and media contingent.• Developed media awareness skills through slow rescueprogress• Regular appearances at media conferences• However Gill only held a media conference every 24-48hours, allowing AWU to retain the initiative with the mediacontingent by being readily available
    15. 15. “Crisis managers areencouraged to bequick, consistent, open, sympathetic and informative”- (Coombs 1999)
    16. 16. ISSUE #2: GROWING SENSITIVITY AGAINST THEMEDIA CONTINGENT FROM MINERS• Mine staff increasingly resentfulof media contingent.• Large tarpaulins erected aroundboundary fences to limit mediaaccess and vision.• Miners decided no miners incl.NSW mine rescue experts andparamedics would be intervieweduntil following the rescue.
    17. 17. ISSUE #3: HELICOPTERS• Limiting mediaaccess led tomedia helicoptertraffic• No-flyimplementationfailed
    18. 18. ISSUE #4: POOR PHYSICAL MEDIA MANAGEMENT• Premises becamecamping ground for media– chaos.• Small hall became mediacentre• Tight crush of journalists• Overwhelming for first-time spokespeople
    19. 19. ISSUE #5: COMPETITIVE MEDIA• Search operation underground• Limited content for media• Competition for coverage betweenmedia• Channel 9 vs. Channel 7• Bag searches for miners – addedstress
    20. 20. MEDIA MANAGEMENT RESPONSES1. The building of aprofessional, experienced crisismanagement team• Support vs. one individual spokesperson•Gill: Original spokesperson- No media experience, reluctance to engagewith media.- Experience with Port Arthur MassacreShaun Rigby: Department of Premier andCabinetPhil Pyke: Tasmania PoliceTony Scott: Department of Premier andCabinetBMJV‟s Mike Lester: State political reporterhandling media relations for Tasmanianpremier•At the Launceston GeneralHospital:-Mark Franklin (Tasmania Police)-Julie Pellas-Mandy Smith (Premier andCabinet)-Adrian Lacey (Health and HumanServices)
    21. 21. MEDIA MANAGEMENT RESPONSES2. Overcoming the „informationvacuum‟/upkeeping reputation•Spokespeople who worked underground and been in communication withthe trapped miners.•Union officials agreement with AWU to leave issue of blame, breached on60 minutes.•Barry Easther (mayor of West Tamar) as the face of local community-Limited media experience-Strong on-air presence
    22. 22. MEDIA MANAGEMENT RESPONSES3. Providing content for mediaoutlets/negotiation with minemanagement•Negotiations with mine management regardingtarpaulins and camera approval.•Media provided different image and visionplatforms.•Main television crew and photographer toobtain pool vision.•Somewhat limited the helicopter presence
    23. 23. MEDIA MANAGEMENT RESPONSES4. Safe extraction of Webb and Russell•Initial discussions occurred withTasmanian Ambulance Service to preventmedia coverage.•Negotiations between mine rescue staffand families of trapped miners approvedpool site•Restricted but controlled access of media.• Successful concession achieved – medianetworks could broadcast live as gatesopened.• Spokespeople available immediatelyfollowing ambulances• Police intervention at the bottom of WestSt
    24. 24. MEDIA MANAGEMENT RESPONSES5. Organising media• Media management became a police operation• Occurred towards the end of mine collapse• Media marshalling areas• Each network had own site + pool area forTV/photographers• Permission from Government for mediacoverage•At the Launceston General Hospital:•Government media team was ready and inplace• Media operations allocated a specific area•Arrangements made to notify the media onceminers were rescued via SMS
    25. 25. “While some journalists might complainabout access restrictions to certainstories; if they can be explained, andcompromises made, then everyone willusually be happy with the outcome”“It‟s important that all journalists get equalaccess, and I‟m a big fan of pool coverageas opposed to NO coverage.”
    26. 26. MEDIA MANAGEMENT RESPONSES6. Dealing with thecompetitive nature of media• Media meeting to discuss mediamanagement for extraction•Making media aware of T&Cs•Pool vision/images allowedmanagement of excessive mediaintrusion to rescue efforts•Removal of hidden cameras – NewsLimited and Channel 7• Ambulance doors open – addedcoup for media
    27. 27. “The plan to have a live TV pool camera (andphoto), a road corridor for ambulances, andlock-down positions for the news organisationswas crucial to the success of everyone‟scoverage when the miners finally emerged… Ifthis hadn‟t been sorted out in advance and…the journalists hadn‟t agreed to be asked to stayput.. I think the outcome might have been a lotdifferent.”
    28. 28. REPUTATION REVIEWBEFORE• Fine• Under administration but publicly valued because theycontained richest gold bearing oreDURING• Didn‟t wish to engage with media• Gill eventually provided media conferencesfollowing AWU domination• Only offered them occasionally – 24-48 hours• Genuine – fronting media in mine gear.AFTER• Pooled media success for media coverage• Men continued to enjoy fame after crisis – movie deal• Media reports do not negatively frame BMJV
    29. 29. RECOMMENDATIONS (QUESTION TIME)• What could BMJV have done better to manage the media moreeffectively?• Being transparent from the get-go by providing more frequent releasesand not avoiding press coverage and providing a spokesperson at theside• Could have organised for another spokesperson instead of just Gill ashe was busy managing the situation and was not prepared to addressthe media• Could have organised and accommodated the media organisationsbetter from the beginning with stricter control of the growing mediascrum• Could have liaised with miners to show they understood the hard timethey were having being stressed from the rescue operations as well asdealing with the media – as to not reach harsh reactions from theminers by putting up the blockages to the mines
    30. 30. RECOMMENDATIONS• Clearer spokesperson from the start“... the earlier a relevant issue can be identified and managed interms of a systematic organisational response, the more likelyit is that the organisation can resolve conflict and minimisecost implications to its advantage.”- (Hainsworth 1990)• More frequent media conferences• Care response towards miners – expression ofsympathy, information about corrective action, counselling
    31. 31. MEDIA MANAGEMENT LESSONS1. The media management approach of facilitation was adopted by allon-ground media advisers2. Know your key stakeholders and media people3. Prevent the information vacuum – in the absence of informationspeculation will take over4. Listen to media requests and create/facilitate opportunities5. Seek media co-operation and encourage their input6. Aim to present fresh spokespeople on a regular and planned basis7. Plan for all media reactions, including competition betweenorganisations8. Work closely with other media advisers and operate on a commonplan that supports all stakeholders
    32. 32. IN CONCLUSION• The media management was asuccess• Facilitation approach to medialiason gained media confidence• Hugh Williams from CNNapplauded overall management
    33. 33. REFERENCES• Matthew W. Seeger (2006): Best Practices in Crisis Communication: AnExpert Panel Process, Journal of Applied CommunicationResearch, 34:3, 232-244, Accessed Online• Rahul Sod, Geoffrey Stockdale and Everett M. Roger (1987): How theNews Media Operate in Natural Disasters, Communicating Risk: theMedia and the public, Journal of Communication, v37 n3 p27-41 Sum1987