You and your company are thrust into the spotlight because something bad has happened. News of scandal, fraud, untimely death(s), environmental damage, equipment failure and so on. While the types of issues or crises that can hit your company are many and are often unknown, what is certain is that when something does happen, the media will call. And when they do, you need to be ready.
Media can be your ally in a crisis. They are one of the best ways for you to get your side of the story out to customers, employees, shareholders and other stakeholders, especially in the early hours and days of the crisis.
So when media calls, you should have prepared answers or key messages to the following questions. The answers to these questions allow media to report on the situation in a factual, accurate way. You may not be ready to answer all of these questions at first, but you should be preparing to do so as soon as you comfortably can. Companies that are open and forthright in the midst of a crisis gain trust, credibility and can come out of a crisis with a better reputation than when it first began.
The key questions are:
- What happened?
- Who or what is responsible?
- What is being done to address the situation?
- Were there any deaths or injuries (if applicable)?
- What is the extent of the damage/fraud/scandal?
- Is there a danger of future injuries/damages/losses/etc?
- Where did this situation occur?
- When will it be over?
- How long has your organization been aware of this situation?
- Has it happened before?
- Why did it happen?
- Were there any warning signs of the problem?