Went to a presentation today by Eben Black, now with DLA Piper, formerly of the Street of Shame, who was very entertaining. As indeed was Joe Dixon, his Manchester-based associate. It was a seminar on crisis management aimed at businesses being turned over by the press. The key messages:
Don't trust journalists. They are out to get you.
But bloggers are also a threat to your business. Watch them too.
If you get in bother, don't hide. Get a grip of the situation.
Have 3 clear messages.
ABCD - Acknowledge, Bridge, Control, Divert.
Give them another bone to chew on to distract them from you.
There's no such thing as "off the record".
Appear open all the time.
Tell the truth, but only the truth you want to tell.
PR companies who get you nice stories aren't up to crisis management.
And on it goes. For someone, like me, in the business of winning trust and earning it and building relationships it was fascinating to be there to hear this. There was also one company well represented there who have poor media relations and no idea how to respond to hostile questions. So, feeling like a bit of a scumbag I thought it only fair to spread a bit of joy around the terrified delegates and ask them how they felt about me now. Wary, I suspect.
I took our work experience student who was amazed. He was, however, delighted to be told by Eben that political journalism used to be the most exciting place to be, now it's business. Amen to that.