Business Continuity Tip of the Month

The fear factor

One of the most stress-inducing aspects of crisis or incident management is the dreaded media interview. Normally unflappable executives and seasoned presenters have been known to break into a cold sweat, or even to beat a hasty retreat at the prospect.

It’s only natural to be nervous in such a situation. Strangely enough, there’s a good chance that the journalist will be nervous too, which is quite a sobering thought. And nerves aren’t necessarily a bad thing, as any half-decent presenter or performer will tell you. Nerves can keep you focused, keep you on your toes and give you an edge.

Fear, however, isn’t good. Fear can turn the most polished of performers into a blubbering or blabbering wreck. Or cause them to run away. Whilst there can, in some circumstances, be valid reasons for refusing to engage with the media, fear is the most common one, although few will actually admit it.

But fear is usually the result of being outside your comfort zone, often because of a lack of knowledge or experience. So preparation is the key. It’s amazing how many nominated crisis media spokespeople have never had any proper crisis media training, or who went on a course many years ago but have subsequently never had a refresher or practised what they learned. So it’s hardly surprising that the thought of facing a potentially hostile journalist ‘in anger’ fills them with dread.

Whilst it’s unlikely, and probably undesirable, that the butterflies will ever completely disappear, it is eminently possible to get rid of the fear. Through training and regular practice, whether that’s through rehearsal or doing it for real. Experience builds confidence and confidence kills fear.

So what do you reckon your media spokepeople would rather be – scared or prepared?