No matter the nature of a crisis, a company spokesperson is one of the most important influencers on the story. You’re the access point for the news media – and media can tend toward sensationalizing the coverage. That said, there are a handful of useful guidelines that can help you manage the message in a crisis:
- There will be a story. Reporters will get information from a variety of sources, and you should and strive to be one of the most prominent. Be responsive. The more helpful you are while media are gathering facts, the more prominent your message will be.
- Relay what you know. Don’t sweat out reporters by being stingy – release the pertinent information that you have, and be proactive about getting back with more detailed information. Ask for deadlines and return phone calls when you have further info.
- Monitor media reporting. Keep your eye on major media channels to catch misinformation. If you see false information floating around, be proactive – call those outlets and correct the message.
- Be transparent about information you can’t release. This will work better than being cagey – if you can’t answer a reporter’s question, respond by letting them know you can’t answer said question, and your reasoning (i.e. legal concerns, private information, etc.).
- Stick to the message. After you’ve answered any given question, do your best to circle back to the company’s key messages. Repetition of these points can help to make them more concrete.
As the organization’s spokesperson, it’s your job to control the message by cooperating with media and be proactive about getting the correct information to the public. Remember these crisis tips and you’ll be prepared to handle anything.