Whatever source you use for getting the daily news--local or metro newspaper, radio and TV broadcasts, or online articles--regularly you will come across startling stories about companies that had no head notice a couple of days previously that news professionals would describe their business's calamity to a vast audience.

Without warning, your company too can become the center of local, state, national, and in some rare cases international news. Your corporation's unwanted time in the spotlight could result from:
--CEO firing or resignation
--burning building
--sexual harassment charges
--huge stock loss
--sale or merger
--customer's lawsuit
--work site fatality
--discrimination suit
--protesting crowds

Frequently these incidents will bring the media to your front door. Even before you can invite newspaper, radio, and TV reporters to a press conference, the "nose-for-news" professionals will start bombarding you with questions.

Instantly, you think of similar situations, where you have watched high profile business leaders respond. Quite often, you have heard them answer questions--especially the toughest ones--with "no comment." So that's the best way for you to reply. Right?

Wrong, totally wrong. Why? Because "no comment" sounds evasive, deceptive, and suspicious. Seems you must be hiding something. Your credibility begins to evaporate.

So if you get into this public crisis situation, avoid "no comment." Instead, use this approach:

"I understand that you need the answer to your question now, and I would be glad to give it if I could. However, we are exploring the situation throughly, to gather all the facts and confirm their validity before we make a public statement on this issue. As soon as we have the information you want, we will contact you quickly."

Then there's one more step to make this comment acceptable. Do what you promised. Never assume the media reps will forget your pledge. Contact everyone who questioned you, and distribute your documented findings.

As famed broadcaster Paul Harvey might say, that's "the rest of the story."

Conclusion: Dodging reporters damages your image. Delaying reporters courteously until you are able to furnish valid facts and explanations not only helps you maintain your reputation, you are likely to elevate your company's prestige.

Author's Bio: 

Bill Lampton, Ph.D., "Biz Communication Guy," taught communication at the University of Georgia. Then he spent twenty-two years in management positions at the vice presidential level. Since 1997, he has been a Communication Consultant for Corporations and a Speech Coach for leaders. His extensive media experience includes hosting radio shows, recording TV commercials, providing voice overs, and writing many newspaper and magazine columns. Call him to learn about his crisis communication seminar, so that your company will deal with the media effectively: 678-316-4300