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Communicating With the Public During a Food Recall Brian Long Director of Public Affairs N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Sept. 17, 2009.

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Presentation on theme: "Communicating With the Public During a Food Recall Brian Long Director of Public Affairs N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Sept. 17, 2009."— Presentation transcript:

1 Communicating With the Public During a Food Recall Brian Long Director of Public Affairs N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services Sept. 17, 2009

2 Goals of Today’s Session Help you understand the news media The role of spokespersons Better equip you to communicate with the media and public during a crisis situation

3 Why Talk to the Media? Puts a face on your organization, takes the organization from an “it” to a “we.” Builds trust & credibility for organization.

4 Why Talk to the Media? “The media is neither friend nor foe. It’s a beast. And it must be fed. Or it will eat you.” –Gary Pearce, veteran political strategist

5 News Media 101 Know the medium –TV likes visuals –Radio wants short sound bites –Newspapers want details The media’s job is not your job.

6 The Rules Tell it first. Tell it all. Be credible.

7 The STARCC Principle Your public messages in a crisis must be: S imple T imely A ccurate R elevant C redible C onsistent

8 Risk Communication Principles Under promise and over deliver –Instead of making promises about outcomes, express the uncertainty of the situation and a confident belief in the “process” to fix the problem and address public safety concerns.

9 Risk Communication Principles Don’t over reassure –A high estimate of harm modified downward is much more acceptable to the public than a low estimate of harm modified upward.

10 Risk Communication Principles When the news is good, state continued concern before stating reassuring updates “Although the fires could still be a threat, we have them 85% contained.”

11 Messages and Audiences

12 What the Public Will Ask First Are my family and I safe? What have you found that may affect me? What can I do to protect myself and my family? Who caused this? Can you fix it?

13 What the Media Will Ask First What happened? Who is in charge? Has this been contained? Are victims being helped? What can we expect? What should we do? Why did this happen? Did you have forewarning?

14 5 Elements to Build Trust 1.Expressed empathy 2.Competence 3.Honesty 4.Commitment 5.Accountability

15 Accuracy of Information __________ Speed of Release Empathy + Openness Accuracy of Information __________ Speed of Release Empathy + Openness CREDIBILITY Successful Communication = + TRUST

16 Initial Message Must Be short Be relevant Give positive action steps Be repeated

17 Initial Message Must Not Use jargon Be judgmental Make promises that can’t be kept Include humor

18 Media and Crisis Coverage Evidence strongly suggests that coverage is more factual when reporters have more information. They become more interpretative when they have less information.

19 Spokesperson

20 What makes a good spokesperson? What doesn’t make a good spokesperson?

21 Spokesperson Gives your organization its human form. Effective ones connect with the audience. Most good ones are made; few are born. The spokesperson doesn’t just read a statement; he or she is the statement.

22 Spokesperson Qualities Be your organization, then be yourself. What’s your organization’s identity? Know your audience (HINT: Your audience is NOT the reporter interviewing you).

23 Being a Spokesperson Be prepared. Have a message. Stay within the scope of your responsibilities. Tell the truth. Never lie.

24 Being a Spokesperson Stay in control; don’t argue. If you don’t know the answer, say so. Stay on the record. Avoid using jargon.

25 Being a Spokesperson Avoid saying “No comment.” Watch the humor. It can backfire. Don’t accept a reporter’s definitions or phrasing.

26 Being a Spokesperson Don’t repeat negative, inflammatory or emotional questions. Don’t state personal opinions. Silence is golden. Know when to stop talking.

27 Your Rights Know who will do the interview. Know & limit the interview to agreed subjects. Don’t speak for others. Set limits on time and format. Ask who else will be or has been interviewed.

28 Your Wrongs Embarrassing or arguing with a reporter. Telling which reporter you prefer. Demanding that your remarks not be edited or that they be retracted. Lying or clouding the truth. Stating what you are about to say is “off the record” or not attributable to you.

29 The Message State key message – the main point you want to make. Give supporting facts. Use steering phrases, such as “It is important to keep in mind that …” or “The main thing to remember is …”

30 The Message Don’t buy into hypothetical questions. Reframe the question to address legitimate concerns. Break down multiple-part questions. Don’t raise issues you don’t want to see in print or on the news.

31 Telephone Interview Tips Know who is on the other end of the line. Ask if you are being recorded. Ask when & where the info will be used. Spell out names/technical terms/phrases. Limit the time up front. Ask reporter for feedback to make sure they understand your points.

32 Radio Interview Tips A live interview is very different than a taped interview. Watch out for “Uh,” “Um,” and “You know.” Radio will not be as in-depth as print. Be careful NOT to repeat the negatives in a reporter’s question.

33 Television Interview Tips Drive out monotone. The more practice, the less fear and the greater the prospect that animation will reappear in the voice. Don’t look at yourself on the TV monitor. Look at the reporter, not the camera, unless directed otherwise. Do an earphone check. Ask what to do if it pops out of your ear.

34 Television Interview Tips Do not make broad gestures or move in your chair. Ask for one that does not swivel. Practice, practice, practice. Reply in 10- to 20-second phrases. Slow down. This will make the spokesperson appear in control.

35 Questions?

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