Gauntlet says there is nowhere to hide in a world where pictures of stricken coaches, or at-fault employees, quickly circulate on social media, TV or on the pages of print media. For this reason, it has taken direct action to help operators with their crisis planning and has created a special ‘Crisis PR Checklist’, specifically for the passenger transport sector.
Given the nature of passenger transport, emotions will always run high should a vehicle be involved in a crash that causes deaths, injuries or damage because of driver error, or endanger the safety of passengers in other ways. Should the victims or injured parties be more vulnerable members of society, such as children, or the disabled, a media storm will quickly whip up.
Even having a coach or bus logo associated with an incident such as football hooliganism or terrorism can be immensely damaging, purely through ‘association’ with the shocking incident, even if you are completely blameless.
Bur other crises can occur off-road – director fraud, involvement in drugs or people trafficking, breaches of data protection, employment of banned or non-licensed drivers and HMRC breaches being just some examples.
Given that many companies would spend millions to have the outdoor exposure passenger transport operators enjoy through their livery, it quickly becomes apparent how detrimental this brand exposure could become within any negative scenario. On that basis, Gauntlet argues that every passenger transport operator should have a crisis PR plan in place.
This point is reinforced by the fact that Gauntlet is now offering a comprehensive legal expenses policy that includes up to £10,000 of cover for crisis communications, should this professional media handling service become necessary.
Additionally, the policy – specifically designed for passenger transport operators – provides cover for employee and contractual disputes, compensation awards, HMRC inspections, property damage, repossessing land or property from third parties, legal defence, protection against claims resulting from data protection breaches, debt recovery and infringements of restrictive covenants.
Whilst this is a superb level of protection, at a price that starts from £50 plus Insurance Premium Tax, Gauntlet says reputation management is also key and crisis PR scenarios need to be brought under control as quickly as possible. The longer the delay in managing a crisis, from a PR perspective, the greater the damage to reputation and the operator’s bottom-line, in the longer-term.
Gauntlet’s managing director, Roger Gaunt, says: “We live in a world of news-on-demand, with immediate reporting of news via social media channels and instantaneous photo sharing of situations that could prove immensely damaging. No bus or coach operator can trade in a bubble, or think that reputational damage won’t affect them.
“Underestimating how much media negativity can affect a brand or business is a big mistake. We would urge all operators to download our tips and also consider our legal expenses cover that can bring experts in to micro-manage the crisis, once the initial notification and immediate response has been made.”
To access the ‘Crisis PR Checklist for Bus & Coach Operators’ download, head to www.busandcoachinsurance.com/download Details of the legal expenses policy offering specialist crisis PR assistance, when necessary, can be obtained by calling 0113 244 8686.