Trying to avoid a crisis with the media may be well and good, but the fact is that a crisis can not always be avoided. When one does occur, it is essential to know how to handle it, and, as importantly, what you should not do.
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1. Ignore the problem
One of the most common reactions to a crisis is to ignore it and hope it goes away. This rarely works, especially when it is a media crisis. When you have a crisis, you must meet it head on and deal with it immediately.
2. Not changing your decision making model
One of the most common mistakes organizations make is to try to overcome the problem by working harder. Whenever there is a communication crisis, a team that is already overworked suddenly must take on even more of a burden. To effectively deal with the crisis, new decision making protocols must be established. In some cases, you may need to form a completely separate communications team to specifically address that crisis.
3. Allowing lawyers to direct public relations policy
While it may be advisable to have the best attorney representing you if you go to court, when you are facing a crisis in the media you need an expert on the court of public opinion. Choose the right advocate to handle the right battleground.
4. Withholding information
If you attempt to withhold information, it will eventually come out. When that happens, it will add to the crisis and make it appear as if you are trying to hide something.
5. Not immediately correcting errors
The public understands that people are human and will, from time to time, make mistakes. When a mistake is made during a communications crisis, it is going to be amplified. If you say something erroneous, do not hesitate to correct it immediately. Failure to do so will only cause reporters to believe that you misled them on purpose. The result? They might just tell a few million listeners or readers that you deliberately deceived them. It is far better to come clean and own up to your mistake and correct it on your own.
Reference: Media Relations Handbook, by Brad Fitch, Section 12.15 Eight Mistakes to Avoid in a Crisis
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