Media Control, Message Development and Delivery

Framing messages and ensuring their targeted delivery is a skill that executives must master given the risks of saying the wrong thing at the wrong time. It is easy to make a mistake on camera, radio or during a web-based interview. The loss of reputation and brand damage that results from one unguarded comment cannot be underestimated, as so clearly demonstrated by BP’s then CEO, Tony Hayward, during the Gulf of Mexico crisis in 2010.

Understanding what and how to speak to key audiences is an essential part of stakeholder engagement. In a twitter-dominated, social media-driven communications environment, executives must be very conscious of the exact words they choose to reflect corporate values and opinions.

Thinking about appropriate messages and how they should be best framed is not exceptionally difficult, but in a crisis situation, time pressure and the emotions involved make it very difficult to think calmly and rationally when selecting the right response. Training and simulations not only help, but they increase the confidence of executives to engage in real-time and face enquiries from the media and broader stakeholder groups. The more mistakes executives make during simulations, the less likely they are to fail when a real crisis manifests itself.

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