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Media Training: Prepare for the Worst

  March 12, 2024

Your reputation is everything.  When bad press puts it in jeopardy, there is no time to waste.  You need to put your crisis communications plan into action.  This may include: a written statement, a videotaped statement, social media posts, an interview with a journalist you trust, and a news conference.  If the media has wronged you, you'll approach this situation differently than if you or your company have made a mistake and the media is simply shining a light on it,  Either way, your reputation has taken a hit.

Some recent examples in the news:

  • The British Royal Family tries to assure the public that Princess Kate is fine as she recovers from surgery two months ago.  Trouble is when they put out a photo of the princess and her children it has been altered and major news agencies pull the photo.  Wisely Princess Kate issues an apology; explaining that like many amateur photographers do, she made some tweaks to the original photo. Now they are in full PR crisis mode.  Why not simply put out the original photo to stop all the speculation?

  • The LA Lakers have some explaining to do after fans and the media noticed that the statue of Kobe Bryant contains typos. Proper names and other words are misspelled. You have to wonder how this could happen in the first place.  Out of respect for the beloved basketball star and his family, this needs to be fixed ASAP.  The Lakers have issued a statement saying they have known about this for a few weeks and are working to correct it.  I think a proactive approach would have been better than a reactive one.  Maybe they thought no one would notice.
  • Both United Airlines and Alaska Airlines are facing media and public scrutiny.  United for a series of mishaps over the course of a week.  Thankfully none caused serious injury or death.  But it's hard to assure the public it's safe to fly United when they see video of a tire flying off on takeoff.

  •  Alaska Airlines and Boeing are still reeling from the missing bolts/door plug incident.  Now comes a report  that the airline kept that 737 Max in service for a day after engineers, who were concerned about warning lights, scheduled it for a safety check.

As a rule airlines have crisis communications plans in place.  I have conducted crisis communications training for executives of other airlines.  Not surprisingly they took it very seriously.  In high risk industries, it is not if but when some sort of crisis will occur.  

Forward-thinking companies and organizations call on media trainers to help them prepare for worst-case scenarios.  While no one can imagine every possible crisis that may come you way, many are common to particular industries or organizations.  In media training sessions we work through those scenarios with our clients and conduct mock media interviews so they are ready if/when the real thing hits.


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