In times of crisis, we’ve seen the best step up when it matters most. Their outreach to the media and other key audiences establishes strong bonds of trust. Their message reinforces their organization’s credibility and reputation. But we’ve also seen the ill-prepared lose credibility – even jobs – with one casual slip of the tongue. That’s something we don’t want and it’s something we can help you avoid. At the end of the day, it is all about building trust with your audience.
What do some industry spokespeople forget to do in a time of crisis?
- They forget to express empathy, which is especially important if people have been injured or killed. This statement of sympathy should often be the first thing you say, and it should be heartfelt.
- They don’t admit responsibility. There may be legal reasons why this is difficult but know that it can go a long way towards calming people down.
- They forget that while the words are important, the “visual” is as important. And that includes your facial expression, body posture, and what is in the background.
- They pepper their presentation with jargon, because that is how they normally talk to colleagues.
- They forget to explain how the problem will be fixed or how it will not happen in the future. This statement of the path forward must be delivered in a way that demonstrates competency, honesty, and commitment.
Throughout our careers, training has been our passion. And good training can work wonders. You already have proven professionals to guide your organization – executives, engineers, attorneys, financial managers, skilled plant supervisors and employees, among others. Why not transform a group of them into yet a greater asset: competent, credible spokespeople for your organization? The skills required can be radically different from those that make professionals successful in their day-to-day jobs. But with training and practice, the right skills can be learned.
Smith & Harroff’s training applies a mix of proven risk communication principles, together with a full range of media techniques, presentation and interview skills. We provide a wealth of examples by excellent spokespeople, as well as some who aren’t so excellent. Our training involves extensive role play with personal feedback.
We began training nuclear energy spokespeople 41 years ago. We jointly managed a program that tapped talented nuclear energy engineers and scientists and placed them in the media and on college campuses. Our speakers took on some of the industry’s most challenging assignments, going toe-to-toe with the strident opponents of nuclear energy and appearing in televised interviews during tense days following the Fukushima accident.
With training and practice, the right skills can be learned.
Learn more about how we can help your organization prepare for times of crisis at www.smithharroff.com/communications-training.