As connectivity improves, journalists, opposition lawyers, activists and others are becoming aware of just how easy it is to contact a vessel at sea.
Journalists know that seafarers are an excellent source of information and that quoting a seafarer in their story will make the report more interesting. People would rather read about the people involved in a situation instead of just the hulk of metal involved.
Depending on the nature of the incident, the seafarers involved may be traumatised or exhausted. These emotional and physical states make people more likely to say things they later regret; we don’t want these things said to the media. Even more practically, the seafarers involved are likely to be extremely busy dealing with the incident, and pressure from outsiders can dangerously take up precious time.
Most companies have a media and social media policy in place for their seafarers (every company should) and most of these policies essentially say, “do not speak to journalists” and “do not post anything on social media that could impact the company.” Easier said than done.
Journalists are trained to ask questions. They’re good at it. One of two things generally happens when a journalist contacts an unprepared person. Either the person ends up giving more information (often wrong in the early stages of an incident) than they should, or they end up saying/doing something rude or aggressive, which when published makes the company look rude and aggressive rather than responsible and in control of the situation.
The instruction “don’t post anything on social media that could impact the company” is a good thought, but without training isn’t much better than a fire fighting policy that says, “put out the fire”. With training maybe ok, but without it, largely useless. Many problems arise from posts that don’t initially appear problematic. How is someone supposed to know what will or will not cause a problem?
Commercial vessels and those who serve on them are the targets of significant pressure whether from journalists who may see them as a source of sensational stories or opposition lawyers or investigators who may seek to abuse the innate helpfulness of many who choose a life at sea. This is a reality we need to prepare seafarers for.
I have too often seen companies invest heavily in preparing their executives to talk to the media (as they should), and yet spend nothing preparing those on the front-lines who may be approached first when something goes wrong.
If we don’t train to communicate in a crisis, it should be of little surprise when people say regrettable things and when those on the front-lines are unfairly blamed for their actions – even though they were never trained to do otherwise.
Navigate Learning – media and social media training for seafarers
Seafarers can be their company’s greatest ambassadors or accidental liabilities – training makes the difference
Navigate Response has developed an online course, ‘The Media, Social Media and You’ to prepare seafarers to protect their company’s reputation by effectively managing approaches from journalists and avoiding problematic online activity.
The online course prepares seafarers to:
- Recognise problematic social media content before posting
- Respond to journalist calls to the vessel
- Understand how they fit into their company’s corporate communications strategy
- Prepare their families for potential media intrusions in a major incident
- Know their legal rights when confronted by a journalist or other third parties
- Avoid journalist ambushes ashore
The Media, Social Media and You is a first of its kind for our industry. Developed specifically for seafarers by communications specialists for the maritime industry, the course delivers both media and social media awareness as the two are increasingly intertwined. Building on Navigate Response’s years of experience in delivering renowned media and social media training at sea-staff conferences, this online course is:
- Highly interactive: The online course incorporates videos, role play exercises, risk identification tasks, a review of individual social media privacy settings and much more.
- Accessible: The course can be completed on any internet-enabled device in around 45 minutes.
- Recognised: Certificates are issued upon successful completion.
Through interactive learning, The Media, Social Media and You gives participants the tools to respond confidently and the awareness to avoid sharing content that might harm themselves or their company.