Fallston Group

Building Strengthening & Defending reputations

The Public Face of Crisis

By Rob Weinhold; as originally published in Sheriff & Deputy Magazine

When a crisis engulfs your office, you will appear in front of a bank of microphones, and—with white-hot TV lights glaring and cameras rolling—stare out into a sea of skeptical media faces and attempt to deliver a timely, coherent response on behalf of your organization. And with each community meeting, speech, or media interview, you will either make a small deposit into, or a heavy withdrawal from, your reputational “piggy bank”—whose balance you hope never reaches zero.

I have learned from many incredible communicators who perform spectacularly under duress. It is an art, not a science. As with wine, one gets better with age; there is no substitute for experience. The best communicators I know are obsessive about every syllable they utter, every piece of clothing they wear, and every message point they deliver. They call each reporter back, treat them fairly, and never compromise their integrity; they understand what reporters need and make themselves relevant to those who have editorial control.

The best communicators also learn how to steer clear of organiza- tional jargon, are detail-oriented, and deliver news compassionately in a conversational manner that connects with those who consume their words emotionally. They are analytical, well-timed, and process loads of information almost instantaneously. And they are never too high or too low; they have a steady hand under pressure, no matter the gravity of the situation or the tightness of the deadline.

In the event they run into an aggressive reporter, they can manage the situation with the grace and humility of a 10th-level verbal judo artist. If they had the God-given talent to perform on the gridiron, they’d run two-minute drills with the game on the line. And like Peyton Manning, the best are prepared, informed, and always find a way to hone their craft. You want them on your team, because they understand the big picture and see the whole room. It’s what they do best.

Read more in Rob Weinhold’s recent article published in Sheriff & Deputy Magazine via the National Sheriff’s Association, and learn more about Fallston Group’s crisis & issue leadership services, including media training workshops, to help prepare your business.

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