Crisis Comms Some Notes

Spokesperson Guidelines for Communicating with the Media during a Crisis

  • Be aware of the constant movement of news via social media. Twitter can fill the timelines with inaccurate information quickly.
  • Have your social media team briefed on the situation, on hand and able to monitor and respond.
  • Fill the void yourself. If there is a likely gap between communicating the actual situation and the first enquiries – give the media some background on your organisation. Are you aware of the us and what we do and can we give you some background. Etc etc
  • Demonstrate organizational concern about people. “Our primary concern at present is the health of our students…”
  • Explain what is being done to remedy the situation.
  • Keep the message consistent with all constituencies. Never tell one constituency anything that is not being told to the media.
  • Be open, honest, and tell the full story. If you do not, someone else will, thus increasing the possibility that the crisis team loses control of the situation.
  • Never respond with “no comment,” instead explain why you cannot answer the question. (i.e., we do not have those details confirmed at this time, we will provide you with an update when we do have an answer to that question.)
  • Do not guess or speculate. If you do not know the answer, say so and offer to track down the answer.
  • Respect reporter deadlines. If you promise to get information, do so promptly.
  • Don’t get drawn into blaming other organizations or being seen to shift the responsibility.
  • Never speak off the record. The media can use any information released.
  • Never give exclusive interviews during a crisis. All members of the media should have the chance for gathering information.
  • If an injury or death has occurred, do not release the name(s) of the injured/deceased until all next of kin (immediate family) have been notified.
  • Do not provide damage estimate, discuss responsibility for the incident, or discuss legal liability in any way.
  • Be available 24 hours a day.
  • Do not discuss illegal activity at any time. If it is assumed, say “Police are investigating. We are cooperating.” Refer all questions to the appropriate law enforcement agency.
  • In cases when media request interviews with family members, provide a liaison to family members for the media so that the family can protect their privacy if they choose.
  • Avoid “side comments” meant to be humorous. Do NOT accept hypothetical questions. Do NOT repeat negatives in a question. Taken out of context, these remarks can be very damaging.
  • Use everyday language, not jargon, when talking to reporters.
  • Provide written materials that give reporters background information.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *