Things have got a little rocky and now the phone is ringing off the hook with journalists trying to find out what’s going on. Why can’t they just leave you alone when you’ve already got so much on your plate?
In the age of social media, where anyone can communicate with everyone, keeping a lid on something that you wouldn’t necessarily want in the public domain is more difficult than ever.
Journalists, particularly those in local press, tend to take their responsibilities to inform their readers seriously.
If you’re a major employer in a small town that runs into difficulty, you can expect to attract attention of your local paper or even wider press.
While you might be tempted to feel this can only make things worse and that journalists should keep their noses out of other people’s misery, the fact is there are usually wider questions about the circumstances that led to a business’ problems.
These questions might include, are there wider economic problems? Should local, devolved or national government have done more to support organisations or places? Do their feet need holding to the fire to ensure they do what’s right by the staff that have lost their jobs?
Depending on what has happened, there will be more than one route for the story to get out and then get confirmed: through staff either directly or on social media, through contact with councillors or other political representatives, through unions, or if a company has entered administration, through the administrators.
All of these groups will have relationships with journalists for one reason or another, and journalists build their professional careers on the ability to find and confirm sources of information.
However the story gets out, there are also several good reasons to get an official line out in response as quickly as possible, even if it’s just to establish lines of communication with the wider public ahead of a more full response.
For example, if a company has to lose thirty staff after a large contract is lost to ensure long term viability for the rest of the business, any bad news could mean fears and rumours of further bad news down the line have the opportunity to circulate among the public, which could result in other contracts being placed on shaky ground, and any future recruitment made more difficult.
It also means the business loses the opportunity to tell the story of the more positive reasons it has taken the decision – it may have been able to protect 120 other jobs, for example. By making the case for it being a positive action, you can bring in invaluable goodwill from the community you work in, making the task of turning things around much easier.
If you have the need for a team of crisis communication experts, please contact Outwrite PR.