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The Five Golden Rules of Handling a Media Crisis

Be Honest…

Think very carefully about trying to cover things up. A lie is always more damaging than an unpalatable truth, as people are more understanding of genuine mistakes than they are of dishonesty. You might get away with a cover-up, but you will – quite rightly – pay a high price if you are caught out.


Be Forthcoming…

Give people the facts whenever legally possible or ethically justified. People who use a filter of convenience are not trusted, and the only thing that matters at the end of your crisis is that your parents and stakeholders still trust you.


Be Prepared…

Be ready, even if your chosen option is to say nothing and hope it all goes away. Let us plot a strategy that anticipates problems. We know how stories unfold, so twists in your tale don’t have to be unexpected. A statement given in haste is less likely to have the right tone and contain the relevant details than one that is carefully prepared.


Be Pleasant…

Journalists are people doing a job. Reporting on your story is not a vendetta. Engage with them and they will be more sympathetic towards you. Sympathy won’t change the facts but it may change the way those facts are interpreted or delivered.


Be Patient…

Take time to explain. Journalists generally do not deliberately get things wrong or misrepresent. When this happens it is because they have misunderstood the issue. Take time to make sure they get it. And don’t hector, browbeat or patronise them – you wouldn’t do that to a student who ‘hasn’t quite got it’.

More advice from our team

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