Obama uses media training formula during Hurricane

Posted November 9, 2012

The formula we teach our media training clients to use in crisis situations was followed to the letter by President Obama when commenting on Hurricane Sandy this week. It was vital Obama got this right, because his performance could have determined the fate of the US election. When preparing to address the journalists in these situations, we recommend that our media training clients produce three key points to focus on. The first must be Regret or a show of empathy for the victims. Obama followed this with the following sound bite: "Our hearts go out to the families who have lost loved ones." The second point must be the Response, or what you are doing to help. Obama said he would cut through red tape to get people the help they needed, and restoring electricity was the priority. From a media training perspective, you must show people what you are doing to fix things. You must first empathise, and then act. The third point can often be Restitution, or what you plan to do after this is all over to improve the response next time. This could be a review of emergency procedures. Restitution is not necessary in all situations. Sometimes a better alternative can be used as a third point. In Obama's case, he chose to focus on how people came together to help others. He said: "We go through tough times but we bounce back. The reason we bounce back is we look out for one another and we don't leave anybody behind." This formula worked a treat for Obama. It is not only applicable in emergency situations, but many other less serious events that can cripple businesses if they don't react properly. This highlights the importance of media training and being prepared for media scrutiny.
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