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Monday, 21 February 2011

Crisis PR: How to handle journalists and the media in a crisis

When crisis hits your organisation and the press are calling you for comment, it is extremely important that the media and journalists understand and feel that you as the company’s spokesperson, really care!

• Express sympathy and grave concern for what has happened

• Reassure the media that the matter has been taken extremely seriously

• Be as open as possible, do not appear to be hedging

• Don’t blame or admit to blame or negligence but do say, “This is what went wrong and this is what remedial action we took to ensure that this type of incident never happens again.”• If it is true, stress that this is the first incident to happen in the history of the company

• Reinforce what remedial action has been taken including anything ‘above and beyond the call of duty’

• Point out that your company’s standards are well above the statutory minimum (safety / hygiene / training)

• Stick to the facts and don’t speculate

• Keep calm and don’t be defensive

• Be honest and courteous

• Don’t commit to compensation!

• Make a record of the contact

• If you don't know the answer, don't answer it. An "I'll get back to you on that" is always a better answer than a made up one. Simply say, "That's a good question. I'm going to check on it and get back to you in 20 minutes." Then do it. Do not leave the reporter without a call back. Even if you call back to let the reporter know that you're still looking for the information, that's better than leaving them hanging.