What I’m about to write might be met with cynicism in some boardrooms, but bear with me.
There’s been one clear lesson the global cyber attack has highlighted and it’s not about constantly updating software or backing up files. No, it’s that the companies and organisations that invested in media training have truly seen the value of it. How? They’ve used the media to HELP them manage what might otherwise have been an overwhelming situation.
If you run a GP surgery or a car production line, you might feel the last thing you want to do, when all your IT has gone into meltdown, is talk to journalists, but many of those who did put up a well-trained spokesperson have seen how a media interview proves:
– a super-fast way to communicate important information. Whether you want to tell patients to check your hospital’s website for the latest update, or you’re a vehicle manufacturer who needs to tell the night shift you’ve had to halt production, a broadcast interview is a very effective way to tell huge numbers of people key information and simultaneously take the pressure off helplines and call centres;
– that by speaking to journalists you display openness and consideration for your customers/staff/investors etc.. If you don’t, reporters simply find someone who will talk about how your business is coping and you have no control over their comments! Not speaking to the media does not stop the public making a judgement about you;
– a way to put an end to rumours. When a story like a global cyber attack breaks, the vast majority of us don’t have a clue how it might have come about. It’s not like other disasters, such as fires, oil spills or vehicle crashes etc.. which are easier for us all to “get our heads round”. Doing a media interview is the perfect opportunity to establish the facts and dispel damaging and unhelpful speculation.
As we’ve so often said to the doctors, directors, and IT specialists we’ve trained: you can’t always predict a crisis, but you can certainly prepare for one.
Ann Bird, Head of AB Business Training.