Why crisis media training is about more than just the message

February 26, 2013 by Jonathan Hemus

As the horsemeat saga rumbles on, it is becoming clearer and clearer which organisations invested in crisis management training beforehand…and which didn’t.  This manifests itself most obviously in the performance of company spokesperson in their television and radio interviews.

I was asked by The Grocer to assess the crisis communication efforts of the big supermarkets and as part of this I analysed the approach of their crisis spokespeople.

Whilst most of them performed well (and it was clear that many had received crisis media training) top marks go to Peter Marks of the Co-op.

Why did he stand out?  Along with many of his peers, he communicated the right messages of concern, regret and responsibility.  And he did so in a very human, empathetic and down to earth way.  But most importantly of all, he completely embodied his organisation’s values.

The Co-op is renowned for its ethical approach to business, its integrity and its deep connection with its customers.  Peter Marks epitomised these attributes in his tone of voice and attitude during his media appearances (listen to this interview from BBC Radio Five Live as an example of this).

Communicating the right message is crucial in any crisis media interview.  But adopting an appropriate tone of voice and communicating consistently with your organisation’s brand is just as important.  These are elements which might not necessarily appear in every crisis media training course, but they certainly must form part of your crisis management planning and execution.

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