Communication is very important in organizations. When communicating information to a person or a group of individuals, it is important for an organization to consider different types of audiences that will receive the information. In August 2010, 33 miners of a Chilean mining company were trapped underground for more than two months after a section of the mine where they were working collapsed and blocked the entrance (Parry & Rettner, 2010). After the accident, the company had to carefully consider how they communicated information about the collapse to various audiences. The audiences included families of the miners, employees, Chilean citizens, and international community.
One of the things that the company should have considered while communicating the information about the collapse is the effect of the incident on various audience groups (Whelchel, 2011). For instance, family members of the miners trapped underground were likely to experience emotional and psychological traumas, Chile was likely to suffer bad publicity, while the international community was likely to suffer from the shortage of copper supply, since Chile is the biggest supplier of copper. Considering the effects of communication on different audiences affected by the accident allows an organization to ensure that the information communicated to these audiences does not escalate the likely effects of the accident to the audiences.
It is also important to consider the needs of different audience groups when communicating to them the occurrence of an incident (Whelchel, 2011). The Chilean mining company should have considered the needs of the miners’ family members, employees, Chilean citizens, and international community when communicating the news about the collapse. This would have helped the company identify what to include in the information to be passed to the various audience groups. Considering the needs of the audiences allows an organization (the one giving the information) to meet information needs of all audience groups.
Potential needs of the families of the miners trapped at San Jose copper and gold mine included knowing the health status of their relatives, their survival chances, rescue efforts employed by the company to rescue them, and an estimated duration of the rescue operation. Therefore, when communicating the accident to the miners’ families, the company should have addressed precisely these needs. The needs of the company’s employees included knowing the exact number and names of miners trapped in the mine, the level from the earth’s surface at which they were trapped, the cause of the collapse, and the status of the miners in terms of safety (Patty & Rettner, 2010). The company’s employees would probably have wanted to know how they could contribute to rescuing their colleagues.
In order to ensure that all the audiences received the message about the incident as intended, the individual responsible for communication at San Jose Copper and Gold Mine ought to have taken some measures. Just before sending the message, the communication officer ought to have verified that all the information needs of the different audience groups were addressed fully. This implies that the communication officer ought to have known all the information needs of the different audience groups involved in the accident.
After sending the information to the audiences, the communication officer ought to have verified that the audience concerned received and understood the content of the information delivered. This would have been accomplished by indicating in the messages sent to the audiences that every individual was to confirm the receipt of the message to the company, as soon as they received it. This would have helped in identifying those who received the information and those who did not. It would have also helped in addressing extra needs of the audiences, because during the reporting process, different audience groups would have asked the company to address the needs they felt that the company did not address in the message communicated to them.
Below are samples of how communications from the company to the miners’ families and company’s employees could have looked like. The most appropriate communication mode to the miners’ families would have been a press release through national media services, such as national televisions and radio done by the company’s CEO or communication officer. A press release would have been an instant way of communicating information, and covered a large geographical area, and thus a large audience.
San Jose Copper and Gold Mine Collapses Trapping 33 Miners Underground
Chilean San Jose copper and gold mine has just collapsed, trapping all the 33 miners inside. The 33 miners are trapped 1,100 feet below the surface. We have not been able to establish the exact cause of the collapse but investigation is already underway.
We have been able to establish that all the 33 miners are alive and none of them has been injured. They are currently in a safe underground shelter, which they were able to locate immediately after the collapse occurred. They have access to food, water, and sanitary services for the next 72 hours, whereby we believe that within this time, we will have identified a way of providing them with more supplies, as we organize for a safe method of bringing them back to the surface. We have already deployed rescue experts on the site, and they have already started a rescue operation. However, in order to avoid triggering further collapse of the mine, which can affect the miners, the rescue experts estimate it will take them at least 30 days to drill a shaft near the mine, which will be used to access the trapped miners in their shelter.
San Jose copper and gold mine would like to assure all the family members and friends of the miners that the situation is under control and the company is taking all the measures to ensure that all the miners return to the surface alive as soon as possible. We will keep you updated about the progress of the rescue operation. Please feel free to contact us or visit our website for more information about the incident and rescue progress. Please, accept our heart-felt apologies.
The most appropriate method of communicating the accident to the employees would have been a memo. This is because a memo allows for passage of information within an organization within the shortest possible time.
We have just received news that 33 miners working 1,100 feet below the earth’s surface have been trapped after the collapse of the mine. Their team leader was able to send a message using the satellite equipment located at a safety shelter in the mine stating that all the 33 miners are safe.
We have already contacted the authorities and they have a rescue team to the site of the accident. We have also deployed our rescue team and they are already on the site trying to establish the best way to undertake a rescue operation. We are requesting you to remain calm and assist the company in the rescue operations by forwarding the names of your colleagues who you know were inside the mine during the time of the collapse. Your suggestions about how to undertake the rescue operation are most welcome.