Parrish A. Jackson
August 25, 2014
Knowing Your Audience
Knowing your audience is important when communicating. It becomes crucial when potential loss of life is at hand, such as the case during the Chilean mine collapse of 2010. Communication to the various audiences must be taken into account as to how you word and deliver the communication.
When communicating with the family members of the trapped miners, one must place themselves in the families position. What emotions must they be feeling in a time like this? Most likely, their loved one(s) who are trapped are the sole providers for the family. They may not have life insurance and may be anxious about how they would continue to provide for the family if the sole provider dies in a mine collapse. Undoubtedly, the families will want to know what the mining company is doing or is going to do to free their trapped loved ones. The families might also want to know what safety precautions the owners, Minera San Esteban Primera, will take to prevent another incident. Compensation and funding would also be an issue to the families. The families would want to know if they are going to receive compensation during the rescue. These are just some of the things one must consider before delivering this sad news to the families of the trapped miners. The communication from the company to the families should address these potential concerns while being sincere and transparent.
The families would most likely want to be informed as to what is happening with their loved one. It would be important for Minera San Esteban Primera to have an open line of communication for these families so they can retrieve information. Using informal lines of communication such as emails or text messages would not be appropriate channels of communication from the owners of the mine to the families. Face to face communication, such as community meetings would be ideal, with an occasional phone call to inform the families of the meetings. Phone calls could be considered impersonal in this type of situation, especially to the families of the trapped miners.
Communicating to the employees of the company should address many of the same concerns that the families may have. Undoubtedly, some of the employee’s trapped co-workers are also family members. Employees will need to know what they can do to help the miners and also what they need to do to avoid becoming trapped themselves. What will their work schedules be like during the rescue attempts? Will the company close down operations? Will they continue to collect a paycheck during the crisis? They will want to know what caused the collapse and may be worried about legal action taken against them if they had anything to do with it. Communication with the employees should be clear with all the facts that are known to that point, while also being sincere and transparent.
The communication channels for the employees should be similar to those for the families. In this case, a company-wide email could be appropriate to gather all the employees for a company meeting, especially since all of the focus is on rescuing the trapped miners. A company meeting would be prudent as to let the employees know what will be happening with the company, their jobs, and their co-workers.
In both communication examples, the news of the trapped miners should be delivered in person. In the case of the families, each family should be met with individually initially, and future communications on rescue efforts could be disseminated to all family members as a group. Communicating in this way would allow for feedback and questions from the families, and allow the company to answer specific questions and concerns the families may have. Initial communication with company employees should also be face-to-face but in a group setting. Breaking the news that there are 33 of their co-workers trapped 2,300 feet below