It is important to develop a media-response plan prior to an incident. Having clear procedures in place before an occurrence will help avoid ill-prepared confrontations with the media.
During a crisis you should keep these goals in mind:
- Offer information to reduce the chance of speculation and inaccurate information being reported to the public.
- Never say, "No comment." Instead tell reporters the situation is still being reviewed and you will have a statement as soon as you have all of the facts.
- Respond quickly to define and control public perception of how you are handling the crisis or the media will do it for you.
- Show compassion and concern for the people involved.
- Never speculate. If the interviewer says something that is not factual, correct the information.
- Report your own bad news. If you think the media might find out about something that happened, then go to them first. If they have to dig, they may decide you're guilty before you've had a chance to respond.
- Admit mistakes. If you made a mistake, say so. Explain why that mistake occurred and what you are doing to fix the problem. Don't be afraid to say I'm sorry.
- Stay "on the record." If you don't want something reported, then don't discuss it; savvy companies understand the media can be their greatest ally.