PR pros are taking Amtrak’s crisis comms response to task on social media after one of its trains partially derailed and turned over in Philadelphia last night, injuring 140 and killing six.
The train was traveling from Washington, DC, to New York City when it derailed in Philadelphia, shutting down service in the Northeast region. The National Transportation Safety Board began investigating on Wednesday morning. Sources told NBC News that the train’s speed is being examined as a possible cause of the crash.
Crisis communicators castigated the railroad for its delayed response to the incident on social media.
Amtrak’s first tweet read: "We are aware of the derailment of Northeast Regional train 188 north of Philadelphia and will provide updates as they become available." It then posted a statement and held press conferences this morning.
Here are PR pros’ reactions on Twitter:
I don't get how major corporations today don't have social media component in their crisis plans-@Amtrak among many others including cities— Greg Kamp (@GregKamp) May 13, 2015
Amtrak's PR effort getting skewered on MSNBC.— Sara Hammond (@ArizonaWildcat) May 13, 2015
Others pointed out that the railroad is looking for a new communications leader based in Washington, DC. Performing crisis comms work, handling media relations duties, and serving as a corporate spokesperson is part of the position, which the railroad posted a job ad for on Wednesday.
Amtrak is looking for a new spokesman, imagine that: Communications Lead - 90070357 - Washington http://t.co/lQ2XKCXIRO— Jotham Sederstrom (@Jothamist) May 13, 2015
A few communicators had praise for Amtrak’s response.