After more than twenty years as an award winning reporter and anchor–including CNN Headline News and WSB-TV Atlanta–Lori Geary formed her own media training company. Lori Geary Media helps clients with Video Production, Media Training, Media Consulting, and Crisis Communications.

As you’ll see in the video at the top of this post, I hosted Lori on my weekly “Biz Communication Show.” You’ll want to hear her advice in this interview, giving guidelines and strategies for companies who get thrust into the public eye in an unfavorable way–and must face the media to explore the problem and announce satisfactory solutions.

Watch the video now, to hear Lori’s recommendations about crisis communication, including:
–saying “no comment”
–off the record
–ambush interviews
–role of the CEO during a public crisis
–getting your team ready to answer challenging questions
–why companies of all sizes need a crisis communication plan

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Bill Lampton, Ph.D.

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Avoid “No Comment”–What to Say Instead

Without warning, your company can become the center of local, state, national, and in some rare cases international news. Your corporation’s unwanted time in the spotlight could result from:
–embezzlement
–CEO firing or resignation
–burning building
–sexual harassment charges
–huge stock loss
–sale or merger
–customer’s lawsuit
–work site fatality

Frequently these incidents will bring the media to your front door. Even before you can invite newspaper, radio, and TV reporters to a press conference, the “nose-for-news” professionals start bombarding you with questions.

Instantly, you think of similar situations, where you have watched business leaders respond. Quite often, you have heard them answer questions–especially the toughest ones–with “no comment.” So that’s the best way for you to reply. Right?

Wrong, totally wrong. Why? Because “no comment” sounds evasive, deceptive, and suspicious. Seems you must be hiding something. Your credibility begins to evaporate.
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So if you get into this public crisis situation, avoid “no comment.” Instead, use this approach:

“I understand that you need the answer to your question now, and I would be glad to give it if I could. However, we are exploring the situation, to gather all the facts and confirm their validity before we make a public statement on this issue. As soon as we have the information you want, we will contact you quickly.”

Then there’s one more step to make this comment satisfactory. Do what you promised. Never assume the media reps will forget your pledge. Contact everyone who questioned you, and distribute your documented findings.

As famed broadcaster Paul Harvey might say, that’s “the rest of the story.”

Conclusion: Dodging reporters damages your image. Delaying reporters courteously until you are able to furnish valid facts and explanations not only helps you maintain your reputation, you are likely to elevate your company’s prestige.