Most every organization public or private, business or non-profit from time to time has an opportunity to interact with the media. It might involve seeking positive media coverage. Or responding to media inquiries about some aspect of the organization. Or, it may be because a crisis involving the organization has generated public concern and media interest.
In the latter case, how an organization communicates can define…or redefine…it for years to come. In the past few years alone, we have seen how prestigious organizations have had their images impacted to significant degrees by how they communicated in their crises. When an organization experiences a crisis, it is often defined by the public-at-large in one of two ways: as “victim” or “villain.” For example,
Virginia Tech = Victim. Penn State = Villain.
Tylenol = Victim. BP = Villain.
Whether in a crisis or not, whether victim or villain, there are ten “Pearls of Media Wisdom” to keep in mind when communicating with the media and defining your message. Here they are:
Always tell the truth. (That doesn’t mean you have to “spill your guts.”)
Until issues of safety and security are assured, little else matters to the public.
Media can’t print or broadcast what you don’t say.
If you have to eat crow, do it early and in big bites.
Speak in sentences, not paragraphs.
The more you say, the more you “stray.” (Stay on message!)
Craft your message by writing the headline you’d like to see; the sound bite you’d like to hear.
People understand impact and outcome better than process.
If your explanation takes longer than their accusation, you’re in some serious trouble.
People don’t care how much you know. They want to know how much you care.
Anyone serving as a spokesman should keep these “Pearls of Media Wisdom” in mind when communicating with the media. They are especially valuable in crisis communications. For more information on media training and preparing your organization for communicating effectively through the media, contact Richard@RichardMcKeown, or at (501) 425-8357.
Phone: (501) 425-8357
PO Box 90
Bryant, AR 72089
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