Effective Media Crisis Management Skills

No company will ever be fully prepared for any crisis that impacts their business. The key is to develop a standard contingency plan to keep the public informed through the media on how your organisation is handling the crisis.

There are Ten Questions a Reporter Will Want to Know in a Hard News Situation:

-          What happened?

-          Why did it happen?

-          Was anyone injured or affected from it?

-          Could this have been prevented?

-          Has this ever happened before?

-          Currently, what are you doing about it?

-          When will the problem be solved?

-          How will you prevent this from happening again?

-          Did you know this was going to happen?

-          What would you like to say to those affected?

For Crisis Management, Have a designated person in your company to answer questions from the press.  In an extreme crisis situation, the CEO or the Chairman of the company should preferably be the main spoke person in order to project an honest and open attitude.

When dealing with reporters from the tabloids, please ensure you handle tricky questions carefully. Never release information despite saying it’s “off the record”, because it will be published. Avoid being drawn into a situation where you have to answer a YES or NO.  Be prepared for open ended questions and prepare a list of FAQs or Frequently-asked Questions.

Try your best to avoid having negative press publicity. The negative impact will remain in the minds of the public for a long time. Always remember if bad press happen once, it is an incident. If it happens twice, it is a coincidence. If it happens 3 times, it has a pattern! Having it 4 times means it has become a lifestyle!

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Organising a Winning Press Conference

  • Choosing a date
    • Try to obtain as much information as possible about internal deadlines of the media you are targeting, and schedule your press conference accordingly
    • Try to avoid a date parallel to other events that are likely to attract considerable public interest

  • Choosing and preparing a location:
    • Make sure the location is easily accessible, and with little effort required for journalists to get there.
    • If it will be at your premises, ensure your organisation is visible (e.g. with a banner, roll-up, poster)
    • Provide good signage so that journalists arriving late can still join in

  • Invitation
    • Build a good list of contacts in advance, and try to use existing media directories
    • Send out invitations by fax or email, about one week in advance
    • Keep it short and simple (maximum one page), highlighting the date, time, duration (45 to 60 minutes) and location
    • Include contact data at the end, and ask for feedback on planned attendance and accessibility requirements
    • Follow up by telephone a few days before the press conference

  • The press conference itself
    • Have a moderator/facilitator to host the press conference
    • Each speaker should prepare a short presentation or statement
    • Align the whole program around one key message, e.g. think of the headline that you would like to see the next day in the newspaper
    • Do not assume that journalists necessarily understand technical terminology
    • Prepare written or printed information on the topic; you can add information on the speakers and organisation(s) involved (cf. a media kit)
    • Invite journalists to ask questions
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How to Maintain Positive Relationship with the Media and Press?

o Compile a list of journalists and reporter contacts and develop friendship with them. Try to remember their professional interest in their work and seek to be a resource information centre for other contacts. Be truthful about the quality of a story and its sources. Always give reporters special access to you by releasing your personal mobile number. Send them an email once in a while when you see their features published.

o The common mistake newsmakers make in dealing with reporters is to insist on a perfect story to advocate your position. The reporters’ job isn’t to protect your reputation or advance your career. Do not expect them to ask you questions to help you to say what you want to say.

o All reporters want to produce a professional story, accepted by their editor and audience with a specific angle. Understanding their job will enable you to build rapport with them and pave the way for media pitching.

o Know your rights with the media will be helpful. Always remember you have the right to be treated with respect. You can refuse to answer any personal questions. You have the right to be quoted accurately. Always repeat your key messages if there is a need to. You have the right to determine when and where you will be interviewed.

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About Andrew Chow

Andrew Chow founded IDEAMART (S) PTE LTD since 1994. He is a certified Life Coach, Serial Entrepreneur, Speaker/Author and Modern Match Maker. He won the Spirit of Enterprise Award in 2008

Andrew had more than 50 interviews and features about him and his business since 2005. During the same period, numerous valuable experiences are drawn from managing the press and media (Channel News Asia, News 8, 938Live, Business Times, Zao Bao, Berita Harian, Today, The New Paper, My Paper, STOMP, FEMALE, HER WORLD, PEAK, SHAPE, Lifestyle, etc).

Andrew is also one of the choice interview candidates for Singapore lifestyle among foreign media like Canadian TV, Swiss Radio, German TV, AFP.

This blog is to share many of my insights about Life, and Business


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