How to Survive the Media During a Crisis
Imagine that a parent accuses your nursery worker of child molestation or a parishioner sues for personal injury resulting from a disciplinary measure. Handling such events will be difficult enough. Add the dimension of dealing with the media, and your task becomes even more challenging.
Contact Legal Counsel
The first step when contacted by the media is to call the church attorney. Legal counsel will know what information can be shared with the general public.
Control Your Message
When dealing with the media:
- Prepare a statement with the help of your attorney. Before a crisis occurs, consider creating a general statement that can be adapted to fit a variety of situations. A public relations firm can help to create this statement.
- Select a central spokesperson through whom all messages are communicated. This person should be an experienced communicator who can deliver a statement clearly, without embellishing.
- Develop a response other than “no comment.” Issue a brief statement like this: “The safety and well-being of our youth are extremely important to our ministry. We are cooperating with the authorities in their investigation, and any comments made before the investigation is complete would be premature.”
- Avoid holding news conferences. Deliver your statement and do not deviate from it. If reporters ask for further comment, gently direct them to ask the appropriate authorities investigating the incident.
- Maintain an open mind and a good attitude about dealing with the media.