is the media your ally or enemy in a crisis
On a regular day the media is your best ally in getting your brand, image and message out there. In times of crisis, however, it is a minefield to be navigated, in order to get out the other side with your image intact.

In this digital era, news travels fast, and when dealing with a crisis, knowing when and what to say can make the media your best ally or your worst enemy.

Timing your run

Timing your run means assessing the situation and knowing what to say at the right time. When you find yourself involved in a crisis, you might automatically start jumping on the defensive to try and salvage your image, however, this can backfire quickly. Instead, take the time to show people that you are a heart centered leader. Within the first few days that a crisis occurs, refrain from making the crisis about you or your company, and focus on the aggrieved by sharing how you are concerned about, attending to and supporting those affected by the crisis.

Influence the narrative

To survive a crisis, you need to make the media narrative about the issue at hand and not about you or your business. Knowing that every interaction with the media is an opportunity to share your side of the story is imperative, especially when handling a crisis.

When you are in the limelight, every decision you make can be open to interpretation by the media, and can consequently shape how you are portrayed. Saying the wrong thing, choosing the wrong time, or not responding at all can backfire on you and your business’ image.

The worst mistake to make when dealing with a crisis is staying silent. This gives the media the green light to spin their own narratives, which can be very harmful and can potentially blow the issue out of proportion, making it harder to protect your image. Ultimately, they will continue to run the story with or without your input.

Providing the media with your statements and commentary is the perfect opportunity to communicate directly to your audience. Addressing the issue quickly, will demonstrate that your organisation is taking action and accountability, which is beneficial to maintaining your reputation.

Acknowledging mistakes, tending to the people involved or the aggrieved and proposing a way forward should be your key aim. Being proactive allows you to have influence over the messaging of the story, which means the media are less likely to spin the issue.

When do I prepare for a crisis?

A media crisis demands a 360 degree view of any potential threats, a proactive plan, a chain of command, an allocated spokesperson, clear messaging, templates, news releases, statements and interview training. It requires intense planning and preparation.

Preparing a crisis media plan is similar to investing in brand insurance. It provides security for your reputation and can save your brand.

The best time to start planning is now.

Final thoughts

Dealing with the media during a crisis can be a stressful task. How you are portrayed by the media is a crucial determinant of your public image and potentially the future of your business. Knowing what you can handle when addressing the media can help you get your message across in a stress free and effective manner. Timing your run can help establish you as a heart centered leader. Finally, acknowledging the aggrieved rather than jumping on the defensive is your best strategy to change the narrative.

Are you an organisation looking to prepare a crisis plan? Contact our agency for a consultation!

Tony Nicholls

Tony Nicholls

Founder and Director of Good Talent Media

Tony Nicholls is an accomplished journalist who has held roles for more than ten years with the ABC, SBS and Network Ten, covering thousands of news stories across Victoria, Australia and in the international media.