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Effective crisis communications when “it” hits the fan.
by Gerard Braud
Would you believe me if I told you that as you read this more than 2-million U.S. citizens in the nation’s 4th largest city have no water, food, shelter, electricity and other basic human needs – and it is not a big enough story to get news coverage?
When I teach seminars and media training, people always ask me what is the best way to break through the log jam of potential news stories in order to get coverage. I always tell them the story has to have a great hook, it has to stand out above the crowd and it must have Wow! I also emphasize that visuals are important.
This week’s financial meltdown on Wall Street got so much news coverage that many news organizations are giving almost no coverage to the human suffering in Houston, Texas, from Hurricane Ike. KPRC-TV in Houston even complained to Brian Williams at NBC. Williams made mention of the complaint in a 20 second comment, then apologized for not giving more coverage because Wall Street was a bigger story. Wow! Even a network affiliate can’t break through the log jam and they have an inside track and great visuals.
News is often defined by how many readers, listeners and viewers are affected. In this case, the media perceive that 300-million U.S. citizens are affected by Wall Street and only 2-million are affected by the hurricane.
Imagine, if a decimated city in the U.S. can’t get media coverage, how hard is it for the rest of us?
The national media also are quick to cover what’s in their backyard first. In this case, Wall Street is right down the street and is most on a New Yorker’s mind. National media in LA have possibly given more coverage to this week’s train derailment than they have to Hurricane Ike, again because the train derailment is in their back yard.
It’s a vivid lesson about how the media defines what is news.
If you’d like more of my thoughts about news and media relations, I’ve posted a 15-day media relations course to my website. I call it, “Don’t Talk to the Media.” It is yours free at www.braudcommunications.com
If you would like to see my thoughts on how well my hometown and home state did with crisis communications during Hurricane Gustav, please visit my companion blog at: http://blog.crisiscommunicationsplans.com/
If you are with a school or university, you’ll want to read my blog at http://blog.schoolcrisisplan.com/
Many thanks to all of my friends from around the world who have checked in with me these past few days to make sure my family and I are safe. Thanks for your thoughts and prayers.
Still safely evacuated to Florida,
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