Incoming! How to handle media requests in a crisis

Reporters don’t care how busy you are or how many hats you are juggling. Here are some tips and best practices for when and how to respond to crisis inquiries and keep your head on straight.

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It’s one of the greatest challenges any media relations professional will face: A crisis hits your organization out of the blue. Reporters have questions. Emails, texts and calls start piling up like urgent bills to be paid.

Though it’s tempting to retreat into a shell during a crisis—saying as little as possible to avoid further trouble—that’s almost always the wrong approach. If you’re not telling your story, your competitors and critics will fill the vacuum with a much less favorable narrative.

Your key stakeholders need to hear from you—and for many of them, media stories will be a primary source of information about the crisis.

Responsiveness in a crisis is also crucial for your long-term relationship with the news outlets that cover your organization. Think of all the times you’ve pitched stories, sometimes successfully, to these reporters—including stories that really aren’t that newsworthy! (We’ve all been there.)

When they’re covering a crisis involving your organization, these reporters desperately need you. If you can’t get back to them now, they’ll be much less likely to work with you down the road.

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