Media questions for small business crisis

Just what does a reporter want to know when you have a crisis? Everything that’s news. Okay, so what does that mean? They’ll want to know the 5 W’s and 1 H.

  • Who did this catastrophe involve: who got hurt, impacted, etc.
  • What exactly went wrong?
  • Why did this happen? This is the blame game or start of the investigation. Why DID this happen?
  • When may include when the event occurred but also when did you learn about it, when did you plan to fix it?
  • Where did the crisis occur? or do you know the whereabouts of the culprit (as an embezzling employee, for example)
  • How do you plan to resolve this?

You should plan an answer for each of these questions. And think of the worst possible thing you could be accused of, whether true or not, and plan an answer for that. If your building blows up and you have immigrant workers are you a racist? I know hard to think like this, but reporters are to make sure they understand all the angles. Again better to be prepared for the worst than to minimize the damage possibilities and be unprepared for them.

Then work on your message about what you say. When you are planning for worst case scenario crisis, it’s hard to imagine what you’d say. But certainly thinking about those terrible questions can give you a leg up for solid answers. And never lie. All of the answers need to be honest–the public can sniff out a lie pretty quickly and then you are just compounding your crisis. Plan to own up to your mistakes–we talked about planning for both a positive and negative outcome. You need to be prepared to say you’re sorry if you are at fault. When you don’t, you further compound your problems. Look at Tiger Woods. Fans and foes alike just wanted him to own up to his philandering and then everyone could move it. His crisis didn’t until he made his apology. He should have known the media weren’t going to let it rest until they had an answer. They aren’t the only ones.


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