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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Miami Herald: Employee palm cards for the oil spill

"Florida, under siege and potentially surrounded, is fighting damaging oil spill publicity by urging its frontline to speak with one voice.

Visit Florida, the state's tourism marketing arm has printable ``palm cards'' on its website that businesses can give employees being bombarded with questions about the BP oil disaster.

The cards, which are slightly larger than business cards, offer a script of things hotel and other hospitality employees can tell people who ask about the spill.

``Florida has 825 miles of beautiful beaches. Some areas have been impacted, but most of Florida's beaches are unaffected, and you can count on us to keep providing you accurate, real-time information to make your vacation decisions,'' a card reads.
There's a similar card with answers on how to deal with the media.

The palm cards offer different answers based on whether a business' area has been affected by oil.

``We meant these cards for the frontline tourism industry employees,'' Visit Florida spokeswoman Kathy Torian said Thursday. She said many employees are probably getting questions about the oil spill from consumers, and said the media card is ``in case they get accosted'' by reporters.

Torian said the cards have been updated as the oil spill situation has changed.

``Employees may not have time to keep up on all the latest information about the oil spill,'' she said.

On Thursday, Visit Florida held its first industry-wide webinar to update business owners and others about the organization's plans to promote tourism in the wake of the spill.

Almost 500 people tuned in.

``I think people don't realize what all we're churning out to help out with this situation,'' Torian said. She pointed out the palm cards and a ``share a little sunshine'' campaign on Facebook that encourages people to share pictures of their ``favorite Florida scenes'' so visitors can get real-time views of conditions."

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