The Pile-On

When you are at the center of a public crisis, it can often feel like the world is piling on your misfortune. The media is knocking at your door, dissecting your every action and word.

In crisis preparation, we teach organizations about the role of the media during a crisis — this sets realistic expectations and helps mitigate an emotional reaction.

So, what is the role of the media during a crisis?

  1. The media serves as a central broadcast system.

It is unrealistic to expect the public not to find out about something going wrong, whether it’s the resignation of a leader or a major oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The press has a responsibility to report on real-time happenings and share unbiased truth. It is not a matter of IF the press will find out, but WHEN — public relations comes in to help manage the HOW and ensure fair coverage.

  1. The media will amplify whistleblowers and feature human-impact stories.

You can expect to see whistleblowers given a large platform, and reporters will seek out relatable individuals that highlight the human impact of the crisis. An organization’s spokesperson must be a disciplined and empathic public speaker to balance the sides and prevent the organization from becoming a villain. This is why media training is so beneficial.

  1. The media will seek to identify solutions.

Whether it’s the last sentence in a local news package or an entire critical segment on cable news, the press will want to address potential solutions to the crisis. An organization should be prepared to address (head-on) speculation, misconceptions and shortcuts that the public may think will solve the problem. Even if the facts are still unfolding, a great rapid-response plan can nip misinformation in the bud.

Understanding the media’s behaviors is a great step in your overall crisis preparation plan.

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