You’re having a pretty casual evening at home, enjoying cocktails and a documentary on an obscure French art movement you’ve wanted to see for a long time. Then the phone rings. The vice president of the company sighs and asks you to turn on the news.
Seems the president of your company has been involved in a major scandal, one that’s breaking at this very moment. You gather everyone at the office to discuss what to do next.
One of the most pressing questions of the evening: whether or not to talk to the media. So far, everyone (including the president) has avoided reporters. But eventually that time will come. What do you do? Is there ever a time you should NOT talk to the media?
When There is No Plan
One of the worst times you can talk to the media is if your company has no plan. To fully tackle on any major controversy, you should always regroup and consider all your options.
All it takes is one slip-up and the media and public will be all over you. Remember back in the days of the BP spill? CEO Tony Hayward went on TV to try and ease everyone’s minds and answer questions regarding the company’s future. Unfortunately, his PR team didn’t seem to have a plan, or at least failed to coach him properly. As a result, he made the situation entirely worse by saying ridiculous things.
Without a focus, you risk a better chance of causing a bigger mess than when you started. Regroup, put your heads together, and figure out what you want to say BEFORE anyone says it.
When It Makes Everything Worse
In most situations, you want to get the word out to the public that your company is making attempts to solve the crisis. Generally, this is done by sending a representative of the company to give a statement or answer questions on TV.
However, in certain situations, this is not a very good idea. Sometimes the controversy is too extreme to really talk about. In these cases, it’s more about what you DO than what you say.
If your president was found with a dead body, you wouldn’t want to go on the air and defend him. Whether or not the company lets him go as an employee sends a bigger statement than anything else. There’s literally nothing anyone from the company could say that would help smooth things over with the public. At most, announce what the company intends to do regarding the situation, and let the controversy die down. In cases like these, it’s best to separate your president and the company – this way, people don’t associate the two as much.
What’s the worst example of someone talking to the media when they clearly shouldn’t have?
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of 7 Cheap PR Tactics for Success in Any Economy here: http://www.ereleases.com/7cheaptactics.html