Of course you do! Anyone can do that! Just watch the news tonight on any channel and you’ll see the COE of some company, someone from the emergency services, an airline pilot, your next door neighbour, in fact. . .the only one who’s not on TV this evening is you! But, hold on a minute. . .is that a good thing or not?
Consider the prospect of something going wrong in your business. I know, it will never happen to you. I guess that’s what the senior management of Malaysian airlines thought a couple of years ago or the owners of the Lindt café in Sydney yet, it did happen to them and they handled it in very different ways.
We live in a very different era to that when I started working in the TV newsroom environment for ITV regional news back in 1988. We had no mobile phones and would either find a phonebox (kids, ask your parents about those!) or knock on someone’s door to ask if we could make a call to the editor. There was no social media (I know, who would believe it?) and twitter was something birds would do when you fed them. There was no such thing as citizen journalism either so the news was delivered with authority, was verified (on most occasions) and the rules of engagement between the press and an individual, a company or even politician were very different to that of today.
Fast forward to 2016 and here are some facts:
1: Social media, in particular twitter, is the NUMBER ONE SOURCE of information for broadcast news around the world. The news outlets will broadcast an entire report based on information being posted on that site so it’s no longer verified before being broadcast.
2: If there’s been a bang, somebody has heard it and will take their smartphones to the scene way before the media arrive and start posting on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and a host of other sites. That takes me nicely back to fact number one! This is called citizen journalism and your own people, your staff, your workmates WILL post pictures and videos without a 2nd thought about the impact on your business and, ultimately, their own jobs.
3: The media will talk to ANYONE not just the most senior manager, CEO or company director. In this era of 24 hour rolling news, the editor needs ‘today shots’ and any reporter worth their salt will send back clips from whoever is available. One of our old favourites back in the day was to shout questions through the fence or gates where staff were assembling at muster points. Believe me, the media will use the contractor in the orange overalls who wants to say “Hello Mum, I’m on the Telly” while allowing the reporter to put words in their mouth.
4: The media WILL run the story, with or without your input and, if you’re not talking about your incident, I can guarantee somebody else will. In the case of the Lindt café, the company worked closely with the media in conjunction with the emergency services to try and keep the families involved. They used social media in addition to the traditional press and came across as caring and concerned. Conversely, Malaysian Airlines did not respond well to the hostile media enquiries, were not seen to be caring for their families and came across as running around in headless chicken mode during theMH370 disaster. If you are not ‘pro-active’ during the early stages of an incident or at least responsive to the media requests then don’t expect a favourable response.
5: Your reputation can be ENHANCED or DESTROYED by the way you respond to the media during a major incident. We have worked with many companies throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia Pacific regions giving them everything from basic media awareness training through to 24 hour media response and training for their relative responders teams. The common thread throughout is a lack of understanding when it comes to the media agenda. There’s an expectation that companies will have a pre-approved holding statement ready to go within minutes of the incident taking place and, if you don’t have that in your media plan (you do have a media plan don’t you?) the media will be in front of you throughout the incident.
So, are you ready to handle a doorstep interview, radio request or even a full scale press conference? Why not find out at the BSB expo as our presentation will give you the tips and techniques you need to handle a room full of hungry journalists and reporters! How about being one of those reporters? Now you’re interested!
Just one final piece of advice. . . In the case of fire, please exit the building safely BEFORE updating your Facebook status!