The basics of crisis communication are to admit you have a problem, made a mistake, or are overwhelmed by a situation; make any necessary apologies; and take immediate action to fix the problem.
The reporters that uncover these “problems” can often show up on your doorstep at a moments notice, making it easy for some in management, and even PR, to lose their cool.
So, what can be done to make it a little more constructive when bad news descends on an organization?
To find out, we turned our camera onto Brian Collister, a News 4 WOAI investigative reporter in San Antonio, Texas, and asked him to share a few tips for public relations professionals when someone like him comes calling.
Collister came to the PRSA San Antonio meeting this week to share his insights. My favorite quote that he gave was:
“I know you have a a canned answer, but I don't want your canned answer. I am looking for something more.”
He also said that the public relations person is usually the last person he calls in the process – by that point he already has something that he has investigated and is looking for the organization, or person, to give its side of the story.
Though it is in the video, I think that it bears repeating that Collister, and most investigative reporters, see themselves as getting out information to the public that they have the right to know.
His advice, don't get caught up thinking that you are talking to him, but realize that you are talking to the people that you serve. In other words, don't take it personally, use it to connect with those that will affect your organization.