It’s a situation no one wants to find themselves in but a media crisis can quickly engulf your organisation with little or no warning. It’s essential to be ready to respond so you can influence how the issue is reported. The COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how bad news travels quicker than ever, which can see scandals develop within minutes. You’ll want to have a plan in place if a crisis – such as an outbreak at your organisation – presents itself.
Crisis media management isn’t something that comes naturally to many organisations but there are certain things you can do to help you weather the storm. Handling a crisis well can actually strengthen your reputation, and your brand, so it pays to be prepared.
The best way to prepare for a crisis is to be prepared! The best time to learn how to manage a media crisis is before it happens. Developing a media crisis plan will help you be crisis ready and should include information like:
- Which spokesperson/spokespeople (in case one person is unavailable) will front the media if inquiries come through from news outlets
- Ways for information to be shared with all relevant parties within your organisation about any crises that may occur
- Positive talking points and key messages that can be applied to any situation as well as developing specific talking points for different types of crises
- A contact sheet for relevant parties that need to be contacted during a crisis, as well as a media list for press releases/media notifications
Taking the time to develop templates and holding statements for a range of crisis media scenarios can make the difference between having a timely response to a crisis and being called out for not being nimble and agile.
Identifying things like the potential cause of a crisis, a timetable of actions that can be taken and the key messages spokespeople will need to communicate will enable your organisation to respond much quicker than if you’re trying to craft your responses on the fly.
Use your social media presence
Social media is one of the quickest ways to communicate with your clients and the general public, so understanding how it should be used during a media crisis is important. Developing key messages and responses to any crises that might emerge means you’ll be able to respond in a timely way and have influence over how the crisis is reported.
An organisation that is too slow to respond to a crisis can suffer irreparable damage, so being able to use social media effectively and carefully is essential to protect your reputation. WordStream has put together a range of examples of some spectacular social media failures as well as some useful tips to stay out of trouble.
Invest in media training
A crisis will expose your spokespeople to some of the most stressful media interactions they’ll face, so ensuring they understand and can deal with the pressure is essential. They need to be able to handle themselves with confidence and poise and present your business in the best possible light.
It’s worth putting time and resources into a company that offers personalised workshops and training to help your spokespeople learn the best ways to handle a crisis. During a crisis, the public wants to hear from spokespeople who are across the details and able to communicate honestly and clearly. Crisis media training allows your spokespeople to develop the skills needed to make these meaningful connections.
Practise, practise, practise
Much like sportspeople practise for a game, you’ll want to practise realistic TV, radio, phone, online and print media interviews. Working with a media professional who can guide you with the sorts of questions that are likely to be asked will help your spokespeople prepare for any real-life crisis scenario. With this thorough preparation, your people won’t be flustered if a crisis does arise.
If you’re looking to be crisis ready and you want some guidance on how to prepare, then Media Success can help. We provide personalised training and workshops so your spokespeople can be confident in a crisis. If you’re looking to find out more about our crisis media services, click here, or get in contact with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.