SFO in-house team handles crisis response

San Francisco International Airport is handling crisis communications in-house after Saturday's Asiana Airlines crash.

San Francisco International Airport is handling crisis communications in-house after Saturday's Asiana Airlines crash.

Last year, the airport hired Burson-Marsteller as AOR for a three-year contract with a total value of $1.8 million. However, airport communicators said the firm is not helping it respond to the accident.

“[Burson's] scope of work includes providing PR support as requested,” Charles Schuler, associate deputy airport director for communications and marketing at SFO told PRWeek. “At this point, no outside communications firms have been assisting SFO, including [Burson].”

In procurement documents issued before Burson's January 2012 selection, SFO indicated that it viewed social media as a “critical communications channel in the wake of a disaster.” The airport said it expected its AOR to help it formalize and integrate the role of social media and electronic communications into its emergency plan.

However, it emphasized in the procurement documents that “in the event of a major crisis, our emergency operations team becomes the sole source of information and communication.” It added that “direction, statements, and the timing of statements are driven from that team.”

Meanwhile, Asiana Airlines has published a subsite with information about the crash and a toll-free number for media inquiries.

When PRWeek reached out, an airline employee directed questions about the crash to the National Transportation Safety Board's public affairs office.  

A Burson representative declined comment.

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