7 response modes for a crisis

As quickly as print journalists would jump on a misstep or controversy, today’s online news hawks (including the citizenry at large) make it essential to reply quickly and potently.

For any organization, a crisis can quickly become a social media firestorm.

Here are seven responses (the first five are inspired by Roger Ailes’ book “You Are The Message“) that you might consider when a crisis befalls your organization:

1. Attack: “I want to make clear that we have always complied with the law and that these charges are a result of having an overzealous prosecutor who desperately wants to become mayor.”

2. Defend: “We knew this decision would be controversial with some people, but we made it because we felt-and still feel-that it was the right thing to do. In order to serve our customers better for the long term, we had to make a difficult decision in the short term.”

3. Counterattack: “Of course our competitor is saying negative things about our new product. They haven’t had a successful product launch in five years, so they’re trying to make people forget about their own dismal track record.”

Related: Keep your cool in a crisis with these 13 tips.

4. Sell: “I knew this decision would be controversial with some voters, but I made it because I know that voters expect me to make the tough choices. So here’s what I’d ask voters: Even if you disagree with me on this issue, consider whether you want someone in office who is willing to make tough decisions on your behalf instead of just doing things the way they’ve always been done. I hope you do, and if so, I’m your man.”

5. Ignore: “[silence]”

6. Deflect: “This is an issue for the Justice Department. It wouldn’t be appropriate for the White House to comment on this matter.”

7. Apologize: “We got this wrong. I want to personally apologize to all of the people who were affected by this issue, and I want them to know that we are taking immediate steps to make sure this never happens again.”

Brad Phillips is president of Phillips Media Relations, which specializes in media and presentation training. He is author of the Mr. Media Training Blog, (where a version of this article originally appeared) and two books: “The Media Training Bible” and “101 Ways to Open a Speech.”

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