Deal or no deal?
Dealing with the media is an issue that often crops up in the context of crisis or incident management. To many, this translates as ‘dealing with’ (or trying to avoid!) the journalists who are looking for interviews or comments and the pressure that we often feel when doing so.
But this is largely missing the point. Because ‘dealing with the media’ isn’t actually about dealing with the media per se – it’s about communicating with our stakeholders. And if we get past our fear or paranoia, the media, in their various forms, can provide a powerful conduit for doing this.
Clearly our spokespeople need to be adequately trained and prepared in media communication techniques. But to use the media effectively, we need to give at least as much consideration to identifying who our stakeholders are, what their concerns might be and which media might influence their thinking, so that we can craft our messages accordingly (using the tried and tested ‘CARE’ technique, of course).
The media are not the audience. But they can be hugely influential and are, therefore, a potentially important route to the people who really matter. So if we worry a bit less about how we’re going to ‘deal with’ the media and a bit more about how best to engage with them to get our messages across, we can actually use them to our advantage.