You probably don’t realize it, but crisis communications skills are used almost every day in your personal life.
Why were you late to dinner?
What do you think of the new young hire?
Did you follow-up with the potential client?
All of these questions have double-blades that can get you into trouble.
Crisis Communications Advice for Business Owners
Here are a few principals you can apply from my crisis communications book – Beat the Press: Your Guide to Managing the Media. These are tactics I learned from my media career as an investigative producer when everyone on the other side of the camera was the villain.
If you project any vibe that you are hiding something, clients will run from you and the media will run to you.
The best investigative stories have conflict and when reporters discover a subject lied in their interview, they have instant conflict for the story.
As a journalist, my radar flashed red lights when I noticed the interviewed subject was avoiding my questions. Be direct with your response. Don’t mince words when asked direct questions or reporters (or anyone else) will become suspicious.
Stay Ahead of the News
It is much easier to put out a fire before it starts and it’s no different with the media.
You can better manage negative news when you are in control of the message.
I’ve run several crises campaigns for nonprofits and politicians where their lawyers were closely involved with the media strategy. Of course, their attorneys wanted them to say “no comment” for legal purposes, and I understand why. But in the court of public opinion, this approach doesn’t work.
When it comes to journalism, you give reporters cart-blanch to write any story if you refuse to comment. Don’t make it easy for them.
You get caught lying and all credibility is lost. It might seem easier to lie your way out of the problem when you think no one will know, but trust me, that is myopic. And if you’re dealing with a seasoned investigative journalist who has prepared for your interview, you are in more danger by lying when the cameras are rolling.
Just ask former Congressman Anthony Weiner about that. If you forgot about that lie, it’s on YouTube and will likely be there for eternity. (Here’s an article I wrote on why I suspected he was lying before he confessed. Hint: he forgot.) Yet another reason to tell the truth. You won’t forget what you said years down the road when your story is emblazoned on the Internet.
Macias PR was named the 2016 “Financial PR Firm of the Year – USA” and the 2015 “PR Consultant Firm of the Year – USA” by Finance Monthly. We have launched and led media campaigns for clients in healthcare, finance, tech and the nonprofit sectors. The founder of Macias PR – Mark Macias – is a former Executive Producer with NBC and Senior Producer with CBS in New York. He is also a PR contributor with CNBC, providing media analysis, insight and crisis advice on timely business topics.