Chapter Rewind: March Breakfast
Crisis Communications with Sara Brady
When it comes to crisis communications, Sara Brady is truly a pro. In fact, she was our 2012 Central Florida PR Pro of the Year. As the president of her own agency, Sara works tirelessly to fix, clean and put out fires all over the county. She’s like our very own Olivia Pope.
At our March breakfast Sara shared tips for how to deal with your client, your boss and the media when a crisis arises. First and foremost, good PR people need to understand the news business. You can’t outsmart the media if you don’t understand how they work. You should always be one step ahead. Crisis managers must be critical thinkers, empathetic, non-judgmental and realistic. Most of all, you have to trust your gut, even when your counsel isn’t well liked or received.
As the crisis manager, you need to know all the facts and identify your objectives. It’s what the client wants, not what the media wants. Everything comes down the five Ws – Who, What, Where, When and Why. Who was involved? What were the events that transpired? Where did it happen? When did it occur? Usually the hardest answer to get out of someone is the why. It’s not easy, but you must always tell the client the truth. It may not be what they want to hear, but it’s what they need to hear. The consequences are very real.
When everyone’s hair is on fire, your job is to be the voice of calm, reason and hope. Not everything is a crisis. Sometimes you have to stop talking and get your client to stop talking too. The issue may not be worth dealing with in the media.
Overall, crisis management is about leadership. It’s about being an authentic team player, stepping up to the challenge, juggling multiple issues and often sacrificing your time, sleep and energy. Whens things get overwhelming for you or your client, remember that a deep breath and some fresh air really helps put things in perspective. Stay calm!