Like the occupational safety, health and environmental profession, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for dealing with the media. No situation or message is the same. And much of the time you're dealing with unplanned occurrences that you and your company have no control over. It can be dire, but this session will provide you with some insight and tools to use so that when you are dealing with the media, either proactively or reactively you will be better prepared and comfortable.

For instance, say you're the head of corporate public relations for an international company, here are a few situations you could, and some have, face. When these situations occur it is the public relations' person that is responsible for finding out the facts, knowing what can and cannot be communicated and when, due mainly to many external considerations, and what to say, when and how:

  • An employee is arrested for murdering his young son

  • A customer's plant catches on fire, the doors are locked trapping hundreds of employees inside resulting in the death of 25 and injuring many more

  • A California earthquake; hurricane Andrew, hit affecting your company's employees and business operations and customers

  • A New York Times Business editor calls you at 5 p.m. saying, "a local lawyer has filed suit against your company for wrongfully… I'll need a response from you in 30 minutes for this Sunday's front-page story

  • You have 500 protestors outside your plant

  • A plane crash takes the life of your organization's president

  • A worker is killed when overcome by fumes while cleaning a tank

    • Certainly, you did not plan your day knowing these types of events would happen.

But it is the job of the public relations person and the department in charge of the area affected to get the information needed and communicate it to the targeted audiences in a timely manner. Your organization's reputation and credibility with external and internal audiences is at stake. One of those audiences is the media. Because whatever you communicate internally and externally will forever remain on record you must tread steadily and provide only the facts. You must manage the communication process and again, it must be done in a timely fashion.

But first, a public relations professional, like occupational safety, health and environmental professionals, should have a good working relationship and open door policy with top management, field management and ongoing communications with a company's, organization's employees and customers. For instance, in public relations one of your best tools are the company employees, they should be aware of any news before it is released to the media. Good practice dictates that as news is released to the media it is sent to employees instantly, at the same time.

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