One of the first things some companies do if a crisis hits is the worst thing you can do – HIDE.
The thinking seems to go along the lines that if no comment is made, that will work well as a strategy and stop the story developing.
Rarely is this the case … media are going to continue to pursue a story and if they cannot get comment from you, they are going to do all they can to find others who will make a comment.
It is at this point that you really do lose control over the story. Your side of the story is not getting heard. Any perspective you have simply is not added to the mix. All this … plus the story rolls on.
Think about it from this point of view … and it’s something I have considered many times over many years … WHAT is the first thing YOU think when an organisation refuses to comment on a story?
Do you think they have something to hide? Or can you see their point of view?
This is why – by and large – it is best to get on the front foot if you are managing a crisis. Make media aware you are ready to take some questions – and to speak out. Make them aware that you are happy to do an interview. Then … do exactly that.
In preparation, ensure you have covered all possible bases and be ready to answer the hardest of questions. KNOW what you want to say – and HOW you are going to say it. Be clear, concise and passionate about your perspective. Audiences know instinctively when they are being spun a line… so ensure authenticity is a key part of your mix. Speak from the heart as well as the head … and always address any complex questions head on. Avoiding issues will look like that … so don’t.
Finally it’s vital you respond in a timely and very efficient manner. Too many organisations take the view that media will need to fit in with their agenda. It is far better to know all the deadlines media are facing, find them out and seek to meet them. It is much better to get media to realise you want to work with them… not against them. Know when people will need comments by, and do all you can to meet those needs. This may get you much better results in the long run.
By Ross Woodward
Ross Woodward leads MEDIA KEY. Media Key does PR for organisations in Sydney, Melbourne and around Australia. It is one of Australia’s leading PR agencies creating high impact campaigns for many different clients.