Why Crisis Media Training is About More than Just the Message

Jonathan Hemus
Jonathan Hemus Director, Insignia Communications

Posted on February 26th 2013

Why Crisis Media Training is About More than Just the Message

As the horsemeat saga rumbles on, it is becoming clearer and clearer which organisations invested in crisis management training beforehand, and which didn’t. This manifests itself most obviously in the performance of company spokesperson in their television and radio interviews.

I was asked to assess the crisis communication efforts of the big supermarkets and as part of this I analysed the approach of their crisis spokespeople.

While most of them performed well (and it was clear that many had received crisis media training) top marks go to Peter Marks of the Co-op.

Why did he stand out?  Along with many of his peers, he communicated the right messages of concern, regret and responsibility. And he did so in a very human, empathetic and down to earth way. But most importantly of all, he completely embodied his organisation’s values.

The Co-op is renowned for its ethical approach to business, its integrity and its deep connection with its customers. Peter Marks epitomised these attributes in his tone of voice and attitude during his media appearances (listen to this interview from BBC Radio Five Live as an example of this).

Communicating the right message is crucial in any crisis media interview. But adopting an appropriate tone of voice and communicating consistently with your organisation’s brand is just as important. These are elements which might not necessarily appear in every crisis media training course, but they certainly must form part of your crisis management planning and execution.

Jonathan Hemus

Jonathan Hemus

Director, Insignia Communications

For further insights into and advice on crisis and reputation management, follow Jonathan on Twitter @jhemusinsignia, subscribe to Insignia Communication's YouTube channel or view our website.

About Jonathan Hemus:

Jonathan is an experienced communication counsellor with over 25 years’ experience providing reputation management advice and training to world leading organisations and brands. He is known for his specialist expertise in crisis communication and is a highly regarded trainer and coach.

At Insignia he has developed plans and delivered training to prevent and prepare for crisis, and advised organisations in the midst of major incidents and issues. He has advised organisations including Diageo, Disney, the International Cricket Council, Lafarge, Novartis, Procter and Gamble, PwC across Africa, Asia, Europe, the Middle East and North America.

Jonathan is a regular media commentator on reputation management matters having featured on Sky News, BBC TV and radio, Al Jazeera, CNN, The Times of London and a wide range of international, regional and sector-specific media. He has also spoken on reputation management, crisis communication, PR and reputational risk management at national and international conferences and events.


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