By Rebecca Manley, Consultant
Just as offices regularly conduct fire drills, it too is essential your crisis communications drill is well-practiced. Too often we see companies reacting (sometimes terribly) to crises with last minute communications plans and panicky spokespeople.
Some might say that it’s impossible to predict or prevent a communications crisis but at the SAS Group we’re confident that by preparing your organisation for all possible eventualities you won’t be caught off guard.
By preparing your company for potential issues you can ensure a planned and flawless response to any situation. And nothing prepares a spokesperson for an interview with a journalist better than an interview with a journalist. At the SAS Group our Media & Communications team are all former journalists with experience in print, radio and television so we truly understand the media environment.
Our industry experience means that you will quickly learn how to effectively communicate with journalists and news organisations. It’s important you clearly understand the needs of the media and the methods to meet those needs because being able to communicate effectively in a time of a crisis can mean the difference between making or breaking your business.
The purpose of media training is to improve communication skills and your company’s relationship with the media. A communications fire drill can boost your confidence in news interviews and help define your strategic communications plan.
While the media can act as a free advertising source they can just as easily become the worst informant of your company if you don’t know how to successfully communicate with them. Saying the wrong thing can give them the power to crush your reputation, but running away from them won’t solve any problems either.
Experience has shown that companies that avoid or ignore the claims of their critics during controversies encounter growing public distrust and outrage. It’s absolutely inexcusable then that so many companies sill commit suicide by media when they hit a bump in the road.
BP’s 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill presents a classic example of a company which created its own negative news storm through their mishandling of the media.
Virtually every step of the way, the company unforgivably lagged events and the public mood. By consistently underestimating or playing down the scale of the disaster, BP unnecessarily created a degree of political and media hysteria that became impossible to control and threatened the company's very existence.
Would you believe BP actually got this right way back in 1990 after the Exxon Valdex disaster. Back then, their board were prepared and they quickly responded to that oil spill and immediately apologised rather than shifting the blame, as they later did in Mexico. Polls showed that BP actually had a better reputation after that spill than before it, which begs the question, why didn’t they follow their own advice 20 years later?
Media training teaches a very powerful set of tools for dealing with the media. Organisations need to be prepared for the possible event where they have to address the claims of the media and their critics. The SAS Group can personalise a crisis communications plan and media training so you deal with “real life” issues and questions. We can give you the tools to control any situation so that you come out on top.
Some of the elements covered in our media training sessions include:
- How the media works
- Commandments for a successful interview
- How to operate off your agenda, not the media’s
- How to guarantee you get your key message across
- On-camera practice
- Personal feedback
Contact us to book in a media training session.