PRSA members can entry unique video content material with Bryan Garner and Sandra Ericson, APR, providing additional insights on disaster communications at this hyperlink.
When Hurricane Ian made landfall on Florida’s Gulf Coast final Sept. 28, the Class 5 storm introduced 155-mile-per-hour winds and a water surge that killed greater than 150 folks within the state and left tens of millions extra with out electrical energy.
The Florida Energy & Mild Firm provides electrical energy for 12 million folks within the state. Working with rbb Communications in Miami, the corporate had greater than 100 communicators “step as much as assume a storm function and assist our prospects,” stated Bryan Garner, Florida Energy & Mild’s senior director of selling and communications.
Garner and Sandra Ericson, APR, govt vp of rbb Communications, had been the friends on July 12 on Methods & Ways Reside, PRSA’s month-to-month livestream on LinkedIn with host John Elsasser, editor-in-chief of PRSA’s award-winning publication, Methods & Ways.
For his or her communications marketing campaign “A Sound Response to a File-Setting Storm: FPL Will get the Lights Again On After Hurricane Ian,” Florida Energy & Mild and rbb Communications obtained PRSA’s 2023 Better of Silver Anvil Award. The awards acknowledge one of the best strategic communications campaigns of the 12 months and showcase organizational excellence.
Hurricane season, which runs June 1 to Nov. 30, “is a part of residing in Florida,” Garner stated. “And that’s why we make a concerted effort to speak all year long, yearly, concerning the significance of making ready for hurricane season.”
Each April, the corporate simulates a hurricane to assist it put together for an actual storm. In the course of the week-long coaching, communicators write social media posts and press releases concerning the hypothetical storm and picture the visuals they would offer to the information media and the general public. That approach, Garner stated, “When an precise storm comes, we’re prepared.”
As Hurricane Ian approached, the communicators tried to anticipate and ship the knowledge their prospects would want at each stage.
Florida Energy & Mild serves about half the state, in eight completely different media markets, “and we have now to be sure that we’re speaking via every of these markets, via numerous completely different channels,” Garner stated. “The essential factor is the consistency of message,” which included dispelling false rumors and different inaccurate data that the general public might need heard on social media or elsewhere.
Ericson, who as a part of the crisis-response group helps present data to the information media, stated, “We’ve had conditions the place a storm is available in one space of the state and out the opposite, so you actually must be timing your communications and focusing on them to what’s occurring within the varied markets.”
To inform the story via images and video footage, which is then made accessible to the information media and on social media, “We deploy members of the communications group and contractors to be safely wherever the injury is and seize these visuals” of the corporate’s efforts to revive energy to its prospects, she stated.
Day by day information briefings “assist construct a cadence of communication and educate people concerning the completely different phases of the storm,” Garner stated.
Yr-round, Florida Energy & Mild has to speak the nuanced message that “irrespective of how a lot we put money into our energy grid to make it resilient, there are nonetheless going to be energy outages,” Garner stated. These communications shouldn’t scare folks, he stated, however “you do wish to level out that we’re on high of it” and can restore the facility.
You may watch the playback of the dialog on LinkedIn.
[Photo credit: The Florida Power & Light Company]