Media Tip: Look Like a Leader in a Crisis

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Many communities sustained damage as Hurricane Irene roared up the Eastern seaboard and officials in towns large and small had to scramble to cope.

Crisis Communications has a lot of moving parts, but one tip that can help is to regularly meet with reporters in the midst of the disaster.  That may be the last thing on the mind of the Mayor or Public Safety Director or other officials who are up to their eyeballs dealing with the crisis and its aftermath, but informing residents through the media has to be part of any effective emergency response plan.

You can't hide in your office or say you're too busy to field media questions.  Sure you don't have time to talk to every reporter individually, but you can schedule regular news conferences as the crisis unfolds to update the media about what happened, the extent of the damage and what you're doing about it. 

Ignoring the media is not a wise course.  You can be sure reporters will find critics of whatever the community is doing to quote or put on the air.  You may be working night and day to save your community, but no one will know about it without a community leader or designated spokesperson laying out the facts.  Without an official's input, the naysayers will be the only voice the citizenry  hears. 

Just be sure to follow through with those news conferences you promise, even if you don't have much to say.

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Janet Vasil

On-Camera, Speaker & Media Coach/Trainer at Vasil Media Group | Your Media Moment & Beyond
Communication Coach, Media Trainer & Founder Janet Vasil is a former award-winning, EMMY®-nominated TV Journalist who helps rising and future business leaders communicate with courage and charisma on-camera, and off. Contact at

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