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Media tip for 2016 - Be ready for media firestorm

12 January 2016

So many of my clients come to me after a bad experience with the media. This is either a media interview that didn’t go as they hoped, or some bad publicity they received after a negative event.

I so often hear: “I wish I had done this training before, then I would have dealt with the incident so much better.”

Most leaders believe they will never need to deal with media scrutiny, that’s always going to be someone else. This remains their view even if similar companies to theirs face a media firestorm. I liken this to when I used to smoke. I was never going to get Lung Cancer. That would always be someone else.

Some leaders who accept that something might go wrong believe that if it does, they’ll cope. This is a risky approach because a bad media story, or series of stories can cripple reputations. These people need to remember that a media interview is like no other conversation. You need to know the differences, traps you can easily fall into and how to be ready to communicate at a moments notice. This is like an insurance policy on your reputation.

Another assumption many make is to simply call a PR Company if something goes wrong. Making this call is a good idea, but you need to be well prepared before that.

In these days of 24/7 news, you need to be able to respond to media within a matter of minutes if something serious happens like a bus crash or a workplace accident. Even a delay of a few hours while a PR company gets its head around your issue is too long to avoid reputation loss.

As part of your crisis communication plan, you need media statements already written on the most likely and most devastating incidents that would lead to intense media scrutiny. You also need media trained spokespeople who are able to front media confidently and quickly with the ability to get their message across and past media gatekeepers.

If your response is delayed, even by a few hours, you lose the ability to control the story. Media will simply say “You refused to comment,” and those stories will be on news websites and all over social media in a flash. Then people will start commenting about your response, or lack of it.

How important is your reputation to you? Make 2016 the year to start protecting it.

Email pete@mediatrainingnz.co.nz or call on 029 200 8555.

Filed under Media Training

Written by

Pete is a leading New Zealand media trainer and regular blogger for his company, Media Training NZ . He has helped leaders from all sectors of society communicate with the media and other stakeholders. Pete is a former daily newspaper reporter and press secretary in the New Zealand government. From these roles, he understands the media process from both sides of the camera.

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