Best Practices When Handling a Media Crisis

Whether social media, print media, or televised media, disastrous accidents seem to inexplicably occur, usually causing massive uproar among both followers and critics. Media crises happen in a variety of ways and on a wide range of forums. By planning ahead and having a solid strategy in place if a media crisis should occur, your company and your reputation have a better chance of coming through unscathed.bomb

Prepare Your Company

The first step in preparing your company to handle a media crisis is to determine what a crisis is and what is not. According to Convince and Convert, there are three main characteristics to look for when determining whether or not your situation is a crisis.

  1. Does your company only have the same information as the public?
  2. Has the general criticism from the public taken on a different tone than normal?
  3. Does the situation have the potential to materially impact the company as a whole?

These are all warning signs that your situation has become a crisis. Make sure your employees know what to look for and offer examples to eliminate any confusion.

Another important preparation step is to set up a chain of command for the response team. Lay out a plan for whom to call for which type of crisis. Email updated versions of your chain of command to your employees quarterly to ensure everyone is kept informed and prepared. Your employees will also be better equipped to handle the onset of the situation if they know exactly whom to contact.

Handling a Crisis

Follow these basic steps to deescalate a situation that is beginning to boil.

  1. Acknowledge the crisis.
  2. Respond first where it started, then turn to other outlets.
  3. Be genuinely sorry for what happened.
  4. Give people one place to find all the information concerning the crisis.
  5. Give people a “controlled forum” in which they can vent about the crisis.
  6. Know when to not publicly respond anymore—a third response is simply turning communication into an argument, so instead give out your email address and phone number and encourage the person to contact you directly rather than go back and forth on an open forum.
  7. Prepare and inform your workers.
  8. Document and analyze everything and thank those who defended you.

(Jay Baer, Convince and Convert)

How can handling a crisis apply to content creation? In many ways, whether that content is found on social media, print media, or televised media. Social media ambassadors make mistakes, as do journalists and writers for news programs. Even content on e-stores has been incorrect before. By not only being prepared to handle a crisis, but taking steps to prevent improper and unfinished content from surfacing, content creators play a part in avoiding media crises altogether.

If and when something slips through the cracks, content creators are instrumental in helping to diffuse situations—company representatives often turn to content creators.  It’s especially important to know the signs of an impending crisis, but it’s also important to know the proper steps to take in order to properly handle the crisis. Prepare and inform your employees, prepare yourself, and create a chain of command in order to follow the steps to handle a media crisis. ~Holly


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