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Protecting your business when a media issue hits

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We all know Murphy’s Law: if a thing can go wrong, it will. You don’t have to be pessimistic to accept that issues can arise around your business and the simple precaution of having a plan can prevent a media item developing into a full-blown crisis. The trick is to act early and maintain consistent messaging. 

Be proactive

A quick look at the news will show what you want to avoid: environmental damage, disgruntled customers, damage to property and people, questionable marketing or product defects. Draw up a grid of issues that could impact your business, stacking them from least to most likely, and ranked from least to most damage. Priority goes to A1 issues - highly likely scenarios capable of causing high damage.     

Be available for comment

Nothing plays worse than “The owners were not available for comment”. Having media statements already prepared allows you to get ahead of the conversation and ensure balanced reporting. Have a maximum of five primary messages that define the context and the actions you are taking, that are honest and positive and above all else, show empathy. Say what you mean, mean what you say, and let your words match your actions. Avoid any confrontation or ambiguity. 

Human error and technology

Human error and technology glitches do occur and you don’t want to be blindsided. Allowing a crisis to develop can cause long-term damage to your business and your brand.Identify your Issues Management Team and draw up a contact sheet with all of their details. Make sure each person has an electronic copy and ensure the contact details are accurate on a quarterly basis. When an issue arises, follow the agreed notification process and brief the chosen spokesperson. This is not always the owner, but someone who knows the business and presents well. Media training is highly recommended.

In Summary

Be proactive, because an issue well-handled will improve your trustworthiness and reputation. Preparing for a potential media issue is a bit like having insurance: it stops accidents turning into disasters - then you don’t have to worry about Murphy.

Written by Lisa Burling of LBPR

This article has been written by an independent author. Any views and opinions expressed in this article belong solely to the author and do not necessarily reflect those of IMB.

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