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How To Face An Urgent, Angry Or Hostile Media.

By Roberta Y Keith

A media crisis is unwelcome at the best of times, but can occur at any time. A reporter could call you or your office unexpectedly asking difficult questions. Or your company may receive a late invitation to appear on a television show that’s being programmed for tonight. Perhaps a reporter stops you in the street or at your office to ask you questions. Maybe you knew nothing was amiss until your company’s name popped up in the social media.

Situations like these do occur. Be prepared. The tips that follow will help you weather the unwelcome attention of the media.

If you are faced by a hostile, angry or urgent media:

Speak to one person in the group, and make your statements short and sharp.

Get you main points across straight away using one or two prepared statements. Bring the media up to date so they are conversant with the current situation. Sometimes you should avoid questions entirely if they do not help you, but by providing an answer they may not feel it necessary to dig further later.

Don’t blame and avoid using jargon, which can aggravate the situation and blur the message. For example the term “mad cow” is inflammatory; BSE is objective.

If you have made a genuine mistake in one of your statements, admit it.

Try to stay calm and not lose your temper. This may not be easy with some of the questions you face.

Be careful of making a mistake and saying something you later regret because you’re angry, upset or emotional. Be aware also that comments you make may be taken out of context.

Be boring. Boring is not good for television ratings. Keep calm and stick to your main points. It’s all too easy to be diverted off them.

The media is especially concerned when people’s lives are at risk or the environment is threatened. Of course, these issues sell papers. Provide reassurance that people’s lives are not at risk, that the environment is not under threat, and that everything is being done to protect both. Your credibility will be enhanced if you show genuine concern for what has happened.

Make sure your facts and figures are accurate. Say when you’re not sure about something and that you will provide the information as soon as it is available.

Make sure you leave the impression that you are the official spokesperson for your company, and that they should not speak with anyone else.

What does “on the record” and “off the record” mean?

“On the record” means that everything you say can be used by the media.

Your answers shouldn’t be reported if you’ve stated you’re speaking “off the record”. But don’t confuse “off the record” with the general background information you may need to give occasionally.

However, it should be noted that speaking “off the record” is not recommended. If you can’t say it “on the record”, just don’t say it.

If you are to effectively manage a media crisis, the keys are proper planning, preparation and importantly, practice. Start now. Don’t wait for the crisis to occur. When your company is facing a hostile, urgent or even angry media it is too late to start thinking about how best to react. Be proactive. Some executives think they can manage the situation but the possibility of losing control, getting angry or defensive can be very damaging to your company. Get proper media training beforehand.

One of the top London PR Agencies can guide you both during a media crisis, and help you prepare beforehand so you and you company come off with minimum damage, and possibly even better off.

For more articles by London PR go to London PR Articles. As a professional London based business consultant, Roberta Y Keith recommends London PR for businesses looking for a London PR Agency and want to save themselves both money and time. London PR Services range by full-service to highly specialist PR Services.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Keith, Roberta Y. "How To Face An Urgent, Angry Or Hostile Media.." How To Face An Urgent, Angry Or Hostile Media.. 14 Jan. 2012. 2 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Keith, R (2012, January 14). How To Face An Urgent, Angry Or Hostile Media.. Retrieved August 2, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Keith, Roberta Y. "How To Face An Urgent, Angry Or Hostile Media."

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