Spokesperson Training Tips
Responding to a Terrorist Attack
San Bernadino massacre. Paris terrorist attacks. Workplace violence. Mass shootings. Suicide bombings. All a harsh reality. Chances are you or someone you know will be thrust into the role of being a spokesperson because of an unanticipated act of terror or crisis. You must be ready to know how to respond.
For years, we have called this type of training by many different and sometimes related names. The most common terms used are crisis communication training, emergency preparedness training, spokesperson training, news media training. In the past, these types of training were typically reserved for the upper echelon of government, industry and big business.
Who Needs Spokesperson Training?
Truly, this type public speaking is never a favorite of my clients. Yet, they embrace the importance of role they will be playing in the dissemination of information. And, they take their crisis communication spokesperson training very seriously.
In today’s age of terrorism, people who never anticipated they would be thrown into the role of spokesperson are all too often suddenly finding themselves in front of the media.
If you have read this far into this article, you are wisely preparing yourself. You must be armed with the right words and demeanor when serving as a spokesperson in response to a terrorist attack.
Top 10 Crisis Communication Tips in the Age of Terrorism
- Accept that you are now a spokesperson. Everything you do and say may be recorded in some fashion. From social media to traditional media, your words and actions will often become a part of the story. Your preparation is key as a part of your spokesperson training.
- Prepare a written statement if time permits.
- Show empathy toward the victims of the terrorist attacks.
- Do not state the names of any of the victims until the next of kin (their family) has been notified. (Emergency response points 1, 2, 3 and 4 are essential during crisis communication techniques in reacting to a terrorist attack.)
- Give good set-up to what you will say. Introduce yourself. State your name. Spell your name. Give you title and affiliation. After doing so, it is most appropriate to let those present know the format of what you’ll be saying … such as … “I will give a brief statement. I will then take questions. I will then let you know when the next update is scheduled.”
- Speak from what you know. State the facts. Do not speculate.
- Use the best possible wording and descriptive language describing your knowledge of the situation. Stating that the situation is “fluid” advises those hearing your message that there is much to be determined. Stating there is “an on-going investigation” is another good set of words to use in crisis communication situations.
- Utilize as many visuals as possible to help describe what has happened and what is currently happening. Consider using maps, graphics and video. (All the above points are critical for emergency response spokespersons when addressing the details of a terrorist attack.)
- Be aware of when you are being recorded. A good rule of thumb is to act like you are always being recorded when cameras and any members of the media or public are present. You don’t want an off-the-cuff comment or something you didn’t want to be publicly shared or picked up by a live microphone. Likewise, a camera shot of you laughing, smiling, smoking or eating can come across as non-caring or self-absorbed.
- Remain calm and repeat questions that are asked of you before you answer the question.
Who must be ready to be a spokesperson in the event of a terror attack?
Who is most likely to be flung into the so-called spotlight and need media appearance training in the age of terrorism? Could it be you? If you own a business, run a restaurant, hold events ranging from concerts to sports venues, are a part of a non-profit organization, work for the government, belong to law enforcement, are an executive, work as a manager, do everything you can to be ready to be a good spokesperson if you must respond to a crisis situation. Reading the Top 10 Crisis Communication Tips in the Age of Terrorism is good place to get acquainted with this type of emergency response training. Actually taking part in spokesperson training is the best way to prepare yourself.
Be vigilant. Be safe.
Free Consultation for Customized Spokesperson Training
Please send me an email if you’d like a free 15-minute consultation about how to best implement crisis communication training for you and/or other members of your team, business or organization. Write to me at MoreInfo@LindaBlackman.com .