media training

In today’s rapidly-moving world of social media, it’s critical to be proactive to pre-empt rumors and some of the potentially negative things that may be written and said about your company.  Leaving questions or doubts in people’s minds can lead to all kinds of speculation and having this spread like wildfire can be hazardous to any organization.

This doesn’t mean having a plan for every possible thing that could happen.  It’s not only unrealistic, but super time-consuming.

What it does mean is having plans in place identifying some of the worst-case scenarios, knowing who would be responsible for what, and an up-to-date contact list, both internally and externally.  The external one would include the news media, shareholders, and other key publics, including major suppliers, allies, clients, lawmakers, and regulators, if applicable.

HOW TO BE PROACTIVE

Appoint someone to be responsible for the following and to monitor it.  This individual would generate and disseminate updated information as often as needed to the publics you’ve identified as crucial.    

As importantly, log any relevant feedback received.  It could be helpful later on.

The same is true with your employees.  Frequent internal communication is important, not only to morale, but also because employees are your greatest ambassadors.  For them to have up-to-date information is priceless and helps to prevent second-guessing about why something was attempted or not tried.

If you have monitoring systems in place, gauge how the public is reacting and responding to the crisis.  Be prepared to alter your messaging if need be.

Be sure to keep senior management apprised, not just of what’s being disseminated, but also of any major communications yet to be released.  The latter will help avoid any surprises.

If applicable, take the lead.  For example, in a case where an employee is killed elsewhere in a mass shooting, one might start a fund to help his/her family.  Consider a matching fund where the company will match up to $X. Publicize this internally and externally with your key publics.

It’s a fine line between capitalizing on a disaster versus being helpful, but hardly anyone would argue that stepping up to aid the family of an employee victim fits into the former category.

LESSONS LEARNED

After a crisis has passed, gather the team and analyze what worked and didn’t work.  Get your data and see what people said or were critical about. If there’s some validity in some of the feedback, make changes in your response plan.  And, of course, communicate all the findings and changes to senior management.

5WPR CEO Ronn Torossian

Ronn Torossian

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Ronn Torossian is the Founder, President and CEO of New York-based 5W Public Relations. He has overseen the company's rapid growth and expansion to the Inc. 500 list, as well as provided counsel to hundreds of companies, including members of the Fortune 500, Inc. 500 and Forbes 400. His work spans global interests, corporate entities, high-profile individuals, regional business entities, government agencies and academic institutions - both on routine public relations matters and extremely sensitive issues. One of the foremost public relations experts in the U.S., Torossian is known for his aggressive, results-focused orientation, as well as his close working relationships with members of the media, influencers, decision makers, politicians and celebrities. At 5W Public Relations, Torossian's client experience has included programs for Coca-Cola, Microsoft, Anheuser-Busch, Barnes & Noble, Cantor Fitzgerald, IHOP, McDonald's, Evian, EDS, VeriSign, XM Radio, Seagram's, The Loews Regency, Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment, Marriott Hotels, Vail Resorts, Pamela Anderson, Snoop Dogg, the Government of Israel, and others. Referred to by The New York Post as a "publicity guru," by Fox News as a "high-powered PR CEO," by Tyra Banks as a "crisis management guru," and by CNN as "a leading PR expert," Torossian is regularly featured in and quoted by the media, including by CNN, Fox News Channel, MSNBC, NBC, The New York Times, and others. CBS National News said "Ronn Torossian knows spin," and a New York Times feature story on Torossian referred to him as "The consummate hard-driving, scrappy NY publicist." Earlier in his career, Torossian was a Vice President/Group Director for one of The InterPublic Group's (IPG) largest PR agencies, where he was responsible for significant client growth and successful client programs, including work for Clinique, Fox News Channel, DHL, Hard Rock Café and others. A resident of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Torossian was named to the Advertising Age "40 Under 40" list, PR Week's "40 Under 40" List, is a regular lecturer at universities and conferences, a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) and a board member of numerous non-profit organizations.