Not a lot of facts? No facts at all? Speculate. The media does it every day.
In life, timeliness is important. Miss the window and you’re SOL.
In dating: Meeting the right person at the wrong time. In business: Inventing a product before the market is ready. In LA traffic: A free ride when you’re already late.
Or in the media: Getting your story published 10 minutes after your arch-nemesis makes headlines with the same story.
The genesis of a recent article was a sexy sound bite from Chattanooga’s mayor saying there’d been a “horrific incident” involving a shooting and a military site. Nothing else was known.
Even the New York Times dispatched two reporters hot on the trail the story.
Why? Because the media was ultra-sensitized. It was not long after the South Carolina church massacre that caused the Deep South to reconsider its allegiance to civil war symbols. And it was on the same day as a jury was deliberating over a movie theater massacre in Colorado.
The media cobbled together bits and pieces of a lot of loosely related people essentially saying they had no idea what happened. (The same happened about a week later after a theater shooting in Louisiana.)
This is how misinformation gets pumped into the rumor mill.
It’s important to get out in front of your audience and tell your story. In public matters, it’s up to the civil authorities to get the facts out. But what about when it’s at your company or on your property? Then the onus is on you.
Like a ninja, you need to respond quickly. No time for delay or uncertainty. You must have someone on the scene immediately (figuratively or literally), armed with facts and the authority to speak. Don’t stick your foot in your mouth or leave your audience with more questions than they arrived with.
When there’s an absence of facts, reporters will fill the void with what’s at hand. Usually that’s speculation.
“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”
Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Prep. More than half a century of expertise working with clients to resolve issues both in and outside the media’s glare — in their professional and personal lives.
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* Bonus points if you picked up on the music reference.