How prepared are you to issue a statement following an event within your district that has caught the media's attention? If you aren't and you have no idea what to say, it's definitely a task for which you need to prepare. As soon as you are made aware of the situation, your plan of action should include crafting a thoughtfully worded statement that you can release to any reporters who contact your district. Having a written statement available provides several benefits:
- Those who man the phones in your school can simply email the statement to any reporter who calls;
- Providing a written statement demonstrates your willingness to share as much information with the public as you can;
- It helps to build trust within your school's community and the greater public by showing that you are being proactive in handling the situation and not avoiding the media; and
- It shows you are being proactive in controlling the message instead of providing no information and letting rumors run wild.
Of course in many instances, you cannot provide many details as the situation may include private personnel issues or may fall under child privacy laws. If that's the case, you can state that, but never say or write "no comment." This just looks like you are hiding something, which is never good. You can still provide the media basic information without divulging private matters. Further, sometimes it might be more beneficial to provide a written statement as opposed to being interviewed on camera so as to prevent an accidental slip of information; with a written statement, you have time to review your comments before distributing them.
It is important to remember, though, that even if you distribute a public statement and intend to keep the public informed as new information becomes available, some are still going to spread rumors and speculations within the community; this cannot be stopped. However, addressing the situation as quickly as possible will show that you are not only aware of the situation but that you are also actively handling it and if necessary, working with the appropriate authorities. Now that social media lets us share information with countless people in a matter of seconds, staying alert to incidents and preparing statements that you can share to inform the public is absolutely essential to maintaining trust and credibility.
If you find yourself in a crisis situation and don't know what to do, we're here to help! Email me, and I will work with you to ensure you are sending out the right message.