How to Weather a Media Storm

You’d be surprised at how many businesses DON’T have an active crisis communications plan. When s**t hits the fan, who do you call, what do you say? What if journalists were lining up outside your building right now demanding a comment? It may sound far from the truth, but this is a stark reality for some businesses.

United Airlines has to go down as one of the biggest crisis communications boo-boos of all time. When Dr David Dao was hauled from his seat and dragged off the flight by airline security, its chief executive initially thanked his staff for going ‘above and beyond’. Epic fail! Que social media, which went into overdrive. After 1.2million Twitter mentions and 135,000 Facebook interactions, the airline finally took action. But as share prices plummeted, this had already turned into a full on PR disaster.

Reacting too late is useless when you’re already caught up in a hurricane. It’s not always easy to offer an explanation right away but make sure any information that you do have is put into the public domain through a holding statement.

News of the Germanwings Airbus 320 crash caused Lufthansa Airlines’ chief to take immediate action, tweeting:

Airlines

It was clear that the airline didn’t have all the information but this direct approach kept media speculation contained for the meantime.  

Your business needs a crisis plan, which should include:

  • An appointed spokesperson
  • An escalation policy that differentiates local disputes and serious threats
  • A central control team with clearly defined roles
  • Information gathering procedures and agreed channels on keeping stakeholders informed

Your appointed spokesperson should have prior media training. This teaches you how to deliver messages effectively when in crisis mode. This may sound simple, but many people struggle to articulate their point when under pressure. The most senior figure may also not be the right choice. Whoever it is, make sure they’ve the right communication skills.

Here at The Write Angle, we’ve years of experience creating and delivering crisis communication plans across sectors including health, construction and education. Get in touch today to see how our expert services can protect your business reputation.

August 23, 2017 - This article was written by Jenny Woolley

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