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February 23, 2015
No Blithe Assurances – Eyes Open Only
A telling example of why public relations shouldn’t ever be practiced skin-deep-only comes from Williamson, West Virginia. There, the local paper has a story quoting Norfolk Southern’s PR director, Robin Chapman, on the measures her company takes to avoid an oil train inferno like the one that hit CSX elsewhere in the state on February 16.

“Not only do our locomotive engineers go through extensive training beginning in McDonough, Georgia,” Chapman said, “but we also come and provide training to emergency responders in the case of handling hazardous materials. We spend hundreds of millions of dollars to properly ensure that this type of accident does not happen and to my best knowledge, the town of Williamson has yet to have a rail accident of this nature. We plan to keep it that way.”

May they succeed. Disaster prevention is everyone’s job in an organization, especially one handling hazardous materials. PR’s job is to aver that that sort of awareness exists; it had better.

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Doug Bedell has a background in journalism and PR and is the owner of Resource Relations LLC in Central PA, focusing on organizational and crisis communication. He’s the community manager of SimplyFair.net, a social network on fairness. On the Web, Doug’s at www.ResourceRelations.com. On Twitter, he’s @DougBeetle.
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