Play your cards close until the time is right
Veteran reporters are wily creatures, and when it comes to determining whether the juicy lead they’ve got about a breaking crisis at your company is legit, they can read volumes from a simple phone call. A recent Pro Sports Communications blog post by Martine Charles took at look at how this plays out, and gave some solid advice on how to…
Keep Your Cool
Under the circumstances you may feel under attack. Your first instinct may be a sarcastic or hostile answer, or a succinct “no comment.” Both are knee jerk reactions. The first creates an adversarial situation and the second, often implies guilt. However, if you remain calm and respond in a professional manner, you can begin to establish rapport and garner the information you need to get back to the reporter once you’ve analyzed the situation. Remember, your words and demeanor are powerful. How you answer the phone and respond can provide immediate insight to a reporter seeking verification of a story.
It’s important to remember, a primary goal of reporters is to grab reader’s attention, and they have no duty to present your company in a positive light. While it’s important to get facts out when a crisis is discovered, the goal is to control the flow of information. At the same time, you do want to maintain a positive relationship with the media.
How do you manage this? It’s easier than you think. Tell them you’d love to share more information, but have to wait until you’ve got the facts together. Given a reasonable time frame for a response (work with your crisis management team to determine this before you pick up the phone), most reporters will delay a story to get your full participation.
For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management
[Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc. , an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is Social Media Manager for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]