Crisis Communications: Establish Guidelines and Provide Training

July 2014 | 0 Comments  Average 0 out of 5

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When a crisis strikes, AFS Intercultural Programs Inc. coordinates responses to press inquiries from 50 offices in 60 countries. “We don’t prevent the offices from speaking to the media,” said Larry Barnett, director of program services and risk management for AFS, which operates international exchange programs for high school students. “We ask that they notify us so we can coordinate the effort and our responses can be uniform if we get similar questions in other countries. What we don’t want is one office saying one thing and another office saying the opposite.”

AFS conducts hands-on training and annually distributes crisis communication guidelines that include tips for media interviews, such as:

  • Find out exactly what the journalist wants before you respond. Negotiate enough time to prepare.
  • Prepare for the interview by selecting three key messages that meet the needs of your audience. Collect evidence and examples to support those messages.
  • Avoid technical language and jargon.
  • Script a succinct, colloquial sound bite.
  • Brainstorm difficult questions and formulate strong answers beforehand.
  • Establish ground rules for the interview, including length, place, pre-recorded or live, and participants.
  • When asked to speak to establish sound level for a recording, use your prepared sound bite.
  • Speak with passion, and put people first.

— Margo Vanover Porter

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