Online Reputation Management Blog

Interview with Crisis Communications Expert Mark Grimm

Lights!  Camera!  Action!  The Online Reputation Management blog is interviewing former TV anchor Mark Grimm is a speaking coach and media/message strategist. He has conducted one-on-one interviews with Presidents Bush and Clinton. Mark was named ASTD Trainer of the Year in a 20-county region and hosts the Siena Alumni Connection radio show.      

What is crisis communications?

Effectively managing a bad public relations event by using a clearly defined process. 

What are the biggest mistakes you see people and companies make when dealing with the media?

The biggest mistakes I see are a lack of understanding of what the media’s needs are and not being clear and compelling enough with your message.

The post-game press conference by two Xavier hoop players back in December 2011 gave two black eyes to the university after a terrible on-court brawl ended their game with bitter crosstown rival Cincinnati.  Xavier senior Tu Holloway defended their actions by saying, “We’ve got a whole bunch of gangsters in the locker room… We went out there and zipped them up.”  Xavier Coach Chris Mack said of the pair, “At times, they probably don’t represent themselves with their use of words real well.”  Understatement of the year, Coach.

Another recent example of a major media mistake comes courtesy of Coach Jim Boeheim at Syracuse University.  In the wake of a sexual abuse scandal at Syracuse, Coach Boeheim’s hastily prepared initial comments had the effect of blaming the victims and reflecting an insensitivity to the seriousness of the situation.  However, Boeheim apologized profusely a day later and wisely told the press and media that he fully supports the investigation and will refrain from further comments until the facts are in.  A wise recovery that probably saved the legendary coach his job. 

How important is social media to your reputation management strategy?

Critical. Your image or reputation is determined by a thousand impressions, one impression at a time. Every mention plays a role and people are getting their information from social media.

What is the first thing a company should do when there is a PR disaster? 

Follow a straight forward plan:

  1. Act with Reason, Not Emotion
  2. Find Out All the facts
  3. Get ahead of the story
  4. Develop a consistent response
  5. Get the media expertise you badly need 

How can CEOs help build and repair corporate reputation?

Transparency goes a long way in building relationships. Be open about your goals and respond candidly and genuinely to complaints. 

What can employees do to help their company during and after a PR crisis?

Become well informed.  Spread the company’s story.  Emphasize the good they do. 

What can companies do to better prepare for a public relations crisis.

Build positive relationships with the press ahead of time. Try to repair poor ones. Have a plan in place on how you would handle a crisis. Rely on expert advice that is battle tested. Create and nurture a culture that values the truth.

About Todd William

Foodie. Bruce Springsteen fan. Citizen of Red Sox Nation. Online reputation management strategist. Founder of Reputation Rhino. For more, follow us @reputationrhino

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