Where to begin with this one…
I don’t have to tell those who have been powerless for days, that Jersey Central Power & Light is facing a huge crisis. The crisis began in August in the wake of Hurricane Irene and is still ongoing following our freak October blizzard. JCP&L’s public response to the massive outages was almost as disastrous as the disasters themselves. What can we learn from JCP&L’s crisis response?
1. Planning Never Hurts
Any vital service provider based in the Northeast MUST have a contingency plan in place for addressing every different kind of disaster (natural or manmade) that can be faced. In the three months New Jersey has seen an earthquake, a hurricane and now a blizzard. Hospitals, waste management companies and, as JCP&L is learning, power companies must have a communications plan in place to augment the provision of their services during a time of disaster.
2. Learn From Your Mistakes
No communications plan is perfect. Understand that fact and then fix your plan after you find where imperfections lie.
Or you can take the JCP&L strategy and not change a thing. After facing severe public backlash due to poor customer service, lack of information and slow response time in the aftermath of Hurricane Irene in August, JCP&L handled our October blizzard without fixing any of these areas.
3. Honesty is the Best Policy
If you lie to the public you will get caught. Countless high profile businesses and organizations have found this out the hard way. Lying to the public when they are cold and stuck in the dark, will only mean the backlash will be that much more severe. If you do not know when power is coming back on, don’t pretend like you do. If you are facing issues responding to outages, let the public know. Provide the public with the most accurate information possible and do not make up facts just to hide the truth.
At this point, what can JCP&L do to fix their reputation?
They are going to require severe reputation assistance; a standard Band Aid will not work here. We are talking about a reputation triple bypass surgery. We expect to see some major house-cleaning within JCP&L to inject some fresh blood. Restoring trust should be their number one priority. They need to show the public how they are fixing their communications and disaster response plans. Restoring honesty will go a long way in this crisis. What do you think? Can JCP&L ever regain public trust?