On Thursday, March 15, members of the WMPRSA joined one another for a discussion about “Politics, Protests and PR”. We welcomed two representatives from the Gerald R. Ford International Airport, Lisa Carr, Public Safety & Operations Director, and Tara Hernandez, Marketing & Communications Director for the airport. This past January, the two women dealt with two separate protests against President Trump’s travel ban (#NoBanNoWall). From their experiences, they shared valuable insight on how they stayed on top of the situation to prevent drastic issues from occurring from both safety and PR standpoints.
With an average of 7,000 people coming in and out of the airport each day, and an estimated 1,000 protesters planning to attend, Lisa and Tara knew they needed to act fast. Tara immediately joined the protest event page on Facebook and was able to sit down with the organizer of the protest to gain insight to better plan for the protest and control the situation.
Looking back at the protests, and learning what they know now, Lisa and Tara suggest the following tips:
- Make sure your organization knows whether or not it’s a public or private property
- Sit down with entire staff/leadership team to put a plan in place and make sure everyone is on the same page
- Plan for protesters protesting the protest
- Set march locations and designated protest areas
- Ensure least impact on travelers accessability
- Hire additional staff (security and police)
- Lock entrance doors
- With any messaging, make sure to alert and inform for safety and security reasons, but not promote or identify any political statement
- Connect with your local attorney and the emergency manager of Kent County Jack Stewart, firstname.lastname@example.org, Office (616) 632-6255