Making the Announcement About Relocation
Standing in front of employees and the news media explaining a location project can be stressful.
Special 2019 Note: Those looking for Joe Vranich’s new comprehensive report about businesses leaving California can find a summary on the California page (once there, scroll down).
Here is an area where it’s better to be a small business than a large business. A company that is packing up and moving 20 jobs out of town is far less likely to endure TV news cameras pitched at their door and annoying calls from politicians than a company relocating 500 jobs to another town or state.
Our Jobs Are Moving Where?
Regardless of the size of your company, what will you do if employees begin asking about a relocation or consolidation before you are ready with answers? What will you say if the Mayor or a local reporter calls because, even though you are a small business, you represent something unique and newsworthy?
Being forced to provide an untimely confirmation of a site selection project can occur due to unexpected events. Employees might spread rumors because part of a conversation was overheard. Or a premature comment by a politician in a candidate community might spark media coverage (which is why it’s best to be represented anonymously) that will be picked up by your local news outlets. Fairly quickly, an onslaught of problematic information can spread via social media be it Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or countless blogs.
The Best PR – Be Pro-Active
Responding to a media inquiry with “no comment” is one of the worst things companies do.
It’s common for the “PR part” to be a particularly difficult component of a location project, particularly if you are the one who has to make the speech to the employees, field inquiries from stakeholders, or face cameras and microphones aimed at you from the hometown press.
Creating a credible relocation message is a must, even for a small business. If you appear to be nonchalant about closing a facility, goodwill toward you could go up in smoke despite your history of, say, paying employees above par, sponsoring fun company events, and contributing to local charities.
There are virtues in preparing a press release in advance to allow for variations to be used with employees and other audiences. If the event eventually sparks public interest, that announcement can be speedily volunteered to the media. Doing so would be in line with a pro-active communications style, which helps a company’s image far better than failing to provide a timely response.
Joe’s Crisis Communications Roles
Joe Vranich has served as a press spokesperson for multi-state real estate transactions during an ownership change on the 644-mile Boston-New York-Washington rail line; when manufacturing plants in New York, Ohio and Florida were closed; and in crisis communications roles during product recalls, accidents, natural disasters, legal disputes and labor stoppages.
Today, he helps clients fashion statements for media, employees and public officials should a company not want to run the risk of alerting employees by relying on in-house PR staff or lawyers to do such writing.