How to Handle the Media Following a Crisis

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Last week we discussed how to communicate to key stakeholders during a crisis and the importance of a crisis communication plan. When a crisis occurs, all eyes will be on the organization and leadership team, including they eyes of the media. In a recent interview with Church Mutual Insurance Company, Firestorm CEO, Jim Satterfield, discussed how to handle the press after a crisis.

There is a perception that if it bleeds, it leads. Tragedies garner views and become stories for media sources. If your organization suffers a crisis and is contemplating speaking to the media – don’t. In today’s digital world, an organization can communicate directly to key stakeholders (employees, students, faculty, congregations, etc.). When handling crisis situations, Firestorm has found if an organization speaks to the media, the media can say: “I spoke to ______,” and any information released after will appear to have derived from the organization – even if it has not.

If your organization does decide to speak to the media, communicate one-on-one and establish a dedicated spokesperson. Most of the information revealed in the first 24-hours of a crisis is wrong; therefore your dedicated spokesperson the first day of a crisis should not be a senior leader. Communicating prematurely and upon inaccurate information can cost an organization credibility.

Proper communications establishes public confidence in the ability of an organization to deal with a crisis and to bring about a satisfactory conclusion. Effective media communication is integral to the larger process of information exchange aimed at eliciting trust and promoting understanding of the relevant issues or actions. Excellence in media communication aids such efforts in four essential ways:

  1. Building, maintaining or restoring trust
  2. Improving knowledge and understanding
  3. Guiding and encouraging appropriate attitudes, decisions, actions and behaviors
  4. Encouraging collaboration and cooperation

How would you measure up under the pressure of a crisis? Call us if you need guidance or training.

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