4 Quick Tips For Responding To Reporters

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    Crisis management experts share media training tips

    Let’s face it – most people are uncomfortable giving public statements about good news, much less speaking for an entire organization in the middle of a crisis management situation. While refusing to answer questions might seem like a solution, the reality is that not responding to asks or delivering the oh-so-passé “no comment” reads as “we’re guilty” in the minds of the public. The number one way to reduce the natural fear many have on this topic is to be prepared, and on that note, we’d like to share 4 Quick Tips For Responding to Reporters from the Bernstein Crisis Management media training experts:

    1. If you really are severely pressed for time, put on your “calm and confident” face and try telling the reporter that you’d absolutely love to grant an interview but there just isn’t enough time right now, and would they like to get their story via phone or email in the near future?

    2. If a certain subject needs to stay under wraps, pull that “calm and confident” face out again and tell them you can’t talk about that just yet, but as soon as you’re able they’ll be the first to know.

    3. If they’re pressing for an in-person interview and you’d rather be in control or you don’t feel 100% prepared to deal with tough questions on the spot, all you need to do is tell them you would love to do an email interview instead.

    4. If legal issues really do prevent you from discussing a specific topic, let the reporter know you wish you could, but that your attorney has advised against discussing anything related to litigation, but perhaps some statement would be released at a later point..

    There are many cases where you can, and should, deny a request for further explanation (especially when sharing more might negatively impact legal strategy), but always do your very best to offer an alternative message and make sure you remember to come across as compassionate, confident, and competent while doing it!

    [Jonathan Bernstein is president of Bernstein Crisis Management, Inc., an international crisis management consultancy, and author of Manager’s Guide to Crisis Management and Keeping the Wolves at Bay – Media Training. Erik Bernstein is vice president for the firm, and also editor of its newsletter, Crisis Manager]

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    For more resources, see the Free Management Library topic: Crisis Management