Is PR Out to Lunch?

What do you do when your corporate office is facing a crisis and the media calls?

a. Go on vacation
b. Ignore it and hope it goes away
c. Answer, “no comment”
d. All of the above
e. Take a deep breath and face the music

According to Brent Arends of the Boston Herald, most public relations executives in the Boston area are not available when he calls. He recently wrote an article about the lack of response from media inquiries.

Brent makes some good points about companies that will repeatedly call a journalist when they have an annoucement, but when the same journalist receives a tip, or negative news breaks on the company, the PR person is nowhere to be found.

Let’s face it, no one wants to talk about bad news, but we can’t hide and be defensive. The best thing to do is to face the music and be offensive.

I advise my clients to always take the high road whenever a controversy ensues. The media will have more respect for you and your company if you handle it properly. I will delve into this subject in an upcoming newsletter article, but for now, here are a few tips to consider when facing a crisis.

1. Research the situation. Gather as much information on the subject as possible. Determine your company’s position and have the company spokesperson speak to the media.

2. Never say, “no comment.” It is better to admit not knowing the answer to a question than hiding behind a “no comment” statement. The journalist will think you’re hiding something.

3. Never lie. Be honest and factual.

4. Keep the media updated. Be proactive and let the journalist know when you will update him with new information.

5. Offer a solution or reassurance to the problem. Let the media know what you are doing to solve the problem.

Going through a crisis is never fun, but you can make it less painful if you take control of the situation and are proactive or offensive instead of being reactive and defensive.

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