I recently conducted a Webinar for the IABC addressing a long list of strategies public relations specialists need in order to represent their clients successfully.
I covered many sensitive subjects that too many PR people and spokespersons ignore and consequently do not deal with properly.
It’s becoming more evident every day that the Media Training Model is broken.
For example, too many media trainers tell you to never use negative words, but the reality is that sometimes you have to tell it like it is.
Sometimes you need to use negative words, and not just repeat key messages ad nauseam.
It is important to be forthcoming in a crisis situation when;
- Concern is High
- Trust is Low
- Your company cannot carry on day to day business affairs
- You are being talked about in Congress or state legislature
- You are on the front page above the Fold
When the headline is you (the title of my new book), you need great media skills to keep a bad situation from getting worse.
Damage control is an overused phrase, but it if you do not know what you are doing when the TV cameras show up there is a very good chance the share price for your company could plummet and your career could crash and burn. We see it happen every day. The BP Gulf Oil disaster is a perfect example of a crisis that was mismanaged from the very beginning. Executives with poor media sense and lack of training always make the situation worse.
On the other hand, when an spokesperson is prepared, they can turn a crisis around and lessen the negative impact considerably.
Consider the JetBlue Airlines fiasco. When they stranded tens of thousands of customers their reputation immediately started to spiral towards the ground. Fortunately, thanks to good media training, they recognized quickly that they could not continue to upset their customers. JetBlue knew they had to apologize profusely in a genuine way, so their president went on record to say, “We are sorry and embarrassed. But most of all we are deeply sorry.”
Attorneys often feel it is a mistake to say sorry because it implies guilt, which could increase liability. The truth is that saying your sorry does not mean you’re guilty. It simply means you recognize that you have had a negative impact on someone and that you feel their pain. The Apology Act was recently instituted in a large number of states and provinces specifically to make it possible for a spokesperson to apologize without fear of being assumed guilty later in court. New laws like this allow us to do the right, human thing and demonstrate empathy.
One of the greatest dangers PR professionals and spokespeople face is to ignore how our world is changing.
What you learned or thought was right yesterday might not be valid today. It is critical to change with the times. Unfortunately it is harder to do then most think, especially if you don’t know the new rules and how people think in today’s social media world.
When bad news strikes, which it does for every company at some point in their history, you must be prepared to deal with it effectively in a modern day way!
I covered a wide variety of issues in my IABC Webinar and used many recent case studies to help listeners understand how they should be evolving and what they can do to help their clients, companies, and careers.
The question segment at the end of the Webinar is also very informative.