Crisis Ready? Know The Media’s Top Crisis Questions

When your organization is hit with a crisis you can expect news reporters to corner your spokesperson with tough crisis questions! Daily you see more organizations being slammed in news headlines and on social media about crisis issues and events. Thankfully, many companies quickly address issues, so they never make the news. But recent evidence shows more incidents are morphing into full-blown corporate crises, with a whopping 80% increase in the number of headlines with the word “crisis” associated with the names of Forbes’ top 100 companies. As the face of the company, media spokespersons must be ready to face a barrage of tough questions. This is why organizations are giving much more thought to increasing the depth of their spokesperson bench – and equipping their spokespersons with the best media crisis training and media interviewing skills possible.

THE TOUGHEST CRISIS QUESTIONS

On any given day you will see media spokespersons across the world doing an adequate job of representing their organizations. Almost anyone can learn how to effectively manage an interview and deliver key talking points in a credible and compassionate manner. However, the better media spokespersons are also quick on their feet. They have mastered the strategies required for the toughest question and answer (Q&A) sessions. It is during Q&A that news reporters sling their fiery darts at lightning speed. Q&A is the part of the news media interview that quickly separates adequate or good media spokespersons from the great ones.

THE TOP 100 CRISIS QUESTIONS

Over the past 25-years our crisis experts and media training coaches have compiled a list of the top questions that news reporters tend to be ask in the first 48 hours of a crisis. The majority of these apply to all types of industries and issues – from E.coli outbreaks, product recalls, corporate fraud, cyber-security hacks, catastrophic events and more. Whether your organization is a financial institution, food & beverage producer, utility, manufacturer, oil and gas producer, healthcare chain, pipeline, high tech developer or chemical group – your spokespersons should be well coached and prepared for the news media’s most popular crisis questions. Here’s a look at our “Top 50” media questions you can expect during a crisis.

THE NEWS MEDIA’S MOST POPULAR CRISIS QUESTIONS

  1. How do you feel about what happened?
  2. Can you guarantee this won’t happen again?
  3. Why did it take so long for you to respond?
  4. What are you hiding?
  5. Should your CEO resign?
  6. Why aren’t we hearing from your CEO or other leaders?
  7. Should your Board of Directors have to answer for what happened?
  8. What should victims do to get the information they need?
  9. How will this impact the public in the short and long term?
  10. How will this impact your stockholders?
  11. How will this impact your customers?
  12. Could this bankrupt your company?
  13. How will this bad news impact your stock and recruiting efforts?
  14. How does this impact your employee morale?
  15. How much damage has been done to your brand?
  16. How will your brand recover after this type of news?
  17. Should your company / industry be more heavily regulated?
  18. How much do you pay lobbyists each year?
  19. How many lawyers are on your payroll?
  20. Were your leaders involved in a coverup?
  21. Have you experienced similar issues in your history?
  22. Will you commit to a public hearing to address this issue?
  23. Can you tell us what happened?
  24. When and where did it happen?
  25. Who was impacted or harmed?
  26. Will you pay for damages and compensate those impacted?
  27. What is your biggest concern right now?
  28. Do you accept responsibility for what happened?
  29. How do you sleep at night working for this company?
  30. What precautions were in place to prevent this from happening?
  31. What precautions should have been in place to prevent this from happening?
  32. If you were harmed by this, what would you expect of your company?
  33. Why were you so ill-equipped to respond when this news broke?
  34. What can we expect next?
  35. What exactly are you advising people to do?
  36. How do people get in touch with your claims group?
  37. How long will it be before the situation returns to normal?
  38. What help has been requested or offered from others?
  39. What responses have you received from political leaders?
  40. Do you think political leaders are over-reacting?
  41. Can you be specific about the types of harm that occurred?
  42. Are those who were harmed getting help?
  43. How certain are you about this information? 
  44. What were the biggest mistakes?
  45. Have you told us everything you know?
  46. What are you not telling us?
  47. Will this issue / incident erode public trust in your company?
  48. What precautionary systems were in place?
  49. Has this ever happened before in your company’s history?
  50. Is it possible this can happen elsewhere?

HONING YOUR SPOKESPERSON SKILLS

The most effective media spokespersons spend years honing their Q&A skills. They learn to quickly identify the types of questions coming at them: leading, hearsay, speculative, negative repeat, either / or, scaling, close-ended, open-ended, etc. Once you learn to identify the most common types of Q&A, then you can learn the proven processes to address each type of news media question. The best media spokespersons know that delivering talking points is the easy part of any interview – but Q&A is where the rubber meets the road during crisis interviews.

If you would like to see the top 100 media crisis questions identified by our crisis communications consultants and media trainers, contact us and we will send you the full list. Also, you may subscribe to our blog to receive notices whenever we deliver new information related to reputation management, effective communication, leadership and influence skills.

Related Articles:

The Best Media Spokespersons – What They Do Differently

ABOUT GAIL & BENCHMARK COMMUNICATIONS

Gail lives on a Texas ranch with her family, five talented horses, one very cute donkey and an entertaining bunch of dogs, cats and chickens! We support a horse therapy program for people with disabilities, as well as local animal shelters that rescue abandoned dogs and cats.

Benchmark has consulted with and trained spokespersons, leaders and associates from all 50 USA states and more than 25 countries. The Benchmark team provides award-winning leadership and communication strategies to Fortune 500 groups so they can achieve their business goals. We provide consulting and coaching services in: reputation management, crisis response, media skills, stakeholder engagement, leadership development, storytelling / presentations, effective communications, public speaking and soft skills training.

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