How do you Handle a Media Crisis?

How do you Handle a Media Crisis?
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True story: a senior executive once called the company’s Communication Officer into his office. Holding a negative article on the company from the Wall St. Journal, and practically trembling with anger, the executive shouted, “How could you have authorized a headline like this??”

Senior management’s wishes to the contrary, a Communication Officer cannot directly control the media, let alone its impact on employees, customers, suppliers, investors, and other stakeholders (in terms of headlines, the reporter doesn’t even control what is printed). Sometimes all you can do is manage the fallout. Imagine that you have just discovered that the Los Angeles Times is about to break a story on your company’s planned – but unannounced and widely rumored – merger. The paper will truthfully report that the merger is bogging down because of disputes over management and leadership philosophy.

The Los Angeles Times will definitely run the story; there’s no avoiding that. But senior management can’t and won’t allow you to confirm or deny that a merger is even being contemplated, much less that it’s on the verge of collapse. What do you do?

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