Public Relations: “There’s a camera crew in my lobby…quick: hit pause and rewind.”

Posted by on July 30, 2008 in Business Management, Business Start Up Advice, Marketing, Sales 2.0 [ 0 Comments ]

It’s happened many times before …and it can easily happen to you too. You get the call that KWHOever is in the lobby with a camera crew wanting to know your company’s response to [insert crisis name]. You’ve got 60 seconds to figure out what to do before the camera goes live…don’t you just wish you’d DVR’d the situation so you can press rewind to grab more time to get ready before you go live?

One of the best responses to a crisis is doing something before it happens. You think it won’t or can’t happen? Think again. If you can imagine it, then it probably will. So what do you do? Get ready before you have to GET READY!!! Here’s how:

Prep the Scouts: Your employees know what’s going on in the trenches. Train them to tell you if they’ve sniffed out a potential crisis or issue of concern before it happens.

Don’t stop talking: Keep regular contact with your company leaders to let them know if there’s a possibility that something bad might happen. That way, you can start to put a plan into action to prepare.

Train the Infantry: Keep your employees informed about what’s going on with the company…good and bad. Not only will you inspire loyalty and trust, but your employees become a great, first line of defense should the media come calling.

Understand, reporters are a creative bunch and will do anything to get the story. I’ve had them stand in a parking lot to catch employees walking to their cars. Not a big deal…IF they know what to say. That’s why keeping them informed is so important.

Cozy up to them before its cold: Keep up relationships with reporters who follow your industry. Strong relationships with the media during a non-crisis time pay off when the heat is on.

Okay…so back to our story. What the heck do you do once the story’s on a roll? What actions can you take after the tape starts rolling? Here’s some things to think about:

It’s a wrap…or is it? Keep in touch with the reporter even if it seems like it’s over. Just because the story is a “wrap,” doesn’t mean it’s a wrap. Monitor how its going and don’t be afraid to call the reporter on the carpet if its not accurate.

Don’t speculate

It is just as important to provide accurate information as it is to act quickly. When researching questions for public release, it is imperative to stick with known facts and don’t feel pressured. The pressure to answer is a dangerous practice and gives rise to speculation. It is true that reporters will be pressing for answers; however, what’s more important is providing factual information.

Play Nice

During a crisis, messaging and communications to any audience should be compassionate to those that may have been affected.

A crisis is a very chaotic time and will create a period of confusion and second-guessing. Remember, everyone is dealing with a difficult time and intangible elements begin to pop up. Just remember, this is a time to show empathy as well as leadership.

Take control

Depending on the situation, the media may try to make a bigger story out of something that really isn’t. Make sure they have the facts right before making the issue to be something bigger than it really is.

If you have to answer

What’s the best thing to do? Take a deep breath and slow things down. Remember the story will be told whether you want it to or not…if you don’t talk, then the reporter will find someone who will. Find out exactly what they’re asking for and let them know you’ll track down answers. This will slow them down and give you time to react appropriately.

If you handle it with honesty and poise, the reporter, and the public, will remember that when times got tough, you handled it like a champ. Then and only then it might be time to set your DVR.

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