Own It

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    The story’s about you, take control!

    We say it all the time, “own your message,” but what does that mean, and how do you take it from concept to reality? In a post on the IMRE BuildIQ blog, McGavok Edwards shared some solid advice:

    Own the message – With planning behind you, you have a playbook and you’re able to focus on the situation at hand. Don’t let internal conflict or differences of opinion hold you at bay. But don’t move ahead with knee-jerk reactions like Rupert Murdoch seemed to do last month when faced with the News Corp crisis mentioned here. This can cause more speculation and then rumors, instead of the facts, begin to take control. Armed with the facts and key messages, put your spokespeople to work and own the message – first to key stakeholders and then others. Only you can speak confidently about your organization and your products. So own it. Fast.

    So really, owning the message means that you guide stories about yourself. The media and stakeholders get their information from you, and that information is shared with the general public. So long as you share legit information, you should continue to be the primary source.

    As the quote says, without facts, rumors creep in to fill the void, and in crisis situations rumors are rarely positive. This extends the crisis, leads to reputation damage and, usually, financial damage as well.

    This is already difficult, but doing it on the fly is like walking a trapeze with no net. Make sure your spokespeople are media trained and ready to go, because at some point you will be the focus of media attention, and when you are, you need to own it.

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    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
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    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training.]