Back to ‘The PR Playbook for (all) Strategic Communicators’

[To comment: larry at larrylitwin dot com]

We are excited to announce the newest edition of The PR Playbook is available from www larry litwin dot com and elsewhere. We will try to include some of the latest in each week’s blog. This week’s topic is “crisis communication.”

These suggestions come from public relations guru, Anne Klein of Anne Klein Communication Group. Anne’s work is legendary.

“Important Don’ts in Dealing With the Media” during a crisis:
1. Do not speculate about anything.
2. Do not give out unconfirmed facts. Give only the facts you are sure of until further information can be obtained.
3. Do not speculate on the potential impact of the incident on employees, neighbors, the community-at-large, etc., unless you know, for sure.
4. Do not estimate on dollar figures for damage that occurred.
5. Do not release the names of anyone injured or killed until family members have been notified.
6. Do not give out any medical reports on condition(s) of the injured. This is the responsibility of the attending physician or hospital
7. Do not assume liability for the incident or guess how the incident occurred.
8. Do not ever respond to a question with “No comment.” It is never an acceptable answer. Say you don’t know if you are unsure of the
answer or that you will put reporters in touch with someone who can answer their questions. If a question requires an answer that you feel
is proprietary to the organization or would violate confidentiality, just explain that fact.
9. Do not speak “off the record,” “not for attribution” or “on deep background.” This is an area of high risk, and it is best not to venture
10. Do not get angry at a reporter or raise your voice.

Klein and others who have been successful in dealing with the media during crises agree on the importance of remaining calm. Take time to compose
yourself and craft your message as you formulate your answers. Remember, you are a professional doing your best to be helpful.
Practice the highest ethical standards. Succinctly, you want to be open, honest, thorough and valid in your responses and dissemination of
information. Above all, never lie to a reporter, but do not answer a question if you don’t have the answer and don’t offer unsolicited information unless it
is to your benefit. Klein recommends you notify the media before they contact you when the community is in danger; your organization’s operations
are affected; if having the media first learn about the situation from someone else would damage your organization’s image or credibility; a good number
of employees know or could possibly know about the situation; there are regulatory infractions that would embarrass your organization if the media
learned about them in some other way.

More next week.

[To comment: larry at larrylitwin dot com]