The Houston School District had a policy that the media had to call and get permission before we came to a campus. I am sure it is a lovely policy, but if I wanted to go to a public school building I just went. I remember going to see a principal about the alleged abuse of a student. When I got to campus, I was confronted by two H.I.S.D. Police Officers threatening to arrest me if I walked onto the school property.
Of COURSE I DID.
I was handcuffed on camera, and you know where I was taken? THE PRINCIPAL’S OFFICE.
MISSION ACCOMPLISHED… AND ONE UNNECESSARY CRISIS THAT TOOK A STORY THAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN NOTHING AND MADE IT THE LEAD.
It is the middle of the night, and disaster strikes. There is little time to react, because let’s face it, most of us don’t plan for a crisis. And once the crisis strikes, the first hours can be critical to the way the public views your response, even your integrity.
I know, because I was one of the first to pounce, and I wanted answers.
I have a lifetime of knowledge about managing a crisis. Because I have been the cause of a lot of them as a nationally award winning investigative reporter for three decades.
Nationally syndicated radio talk show host Michael Berry used to be a Houston city councilman.
“Elected officials quaked when Wayne walked in,” Berry said. “There was fear that he had targeted you, because once he did he would lay it all bare.”
Sometimes disasters are unavoidable, and the only response is accurate, timely and most importantly, credible communications. The media will decide quickly if you are scamming them, or even making them wait too long for the answers.
I will give you a Houston case in point. A fight at a high school in Spring, Texas left a boy dead. The fight was over in minutes, but the school district did not tell parents everything was under control for hours.
A simple tweet, a few words in the first half hour, and the story line would have been totally different.
While in the media, I was always amazed at the slow reaction of some folks to my investigations. Like they thought it was going to go away if they stalled. Not to be graphic, or disrespectful to the craft, but a good journalist can be like an infection. The longer it hangs around untreated, the worse it gets. Think cockroaches. You like one, just wait around and don’t deal with it. You’ll have plenty soon.
And today your biggest threat may not come from a reporter. It may come from a blogger, who will take personal pleasure in creating a website just for the goal of becoming your worst nightmare.
There is no editor, or publisher, or news director to call to complain. Many bloggers are anonymous. You can choose to call them crazy, but when a lot of folks go on the internet they do not react that way.
One other thing, the media won’t be the only trouble. Add trouble from government agencies and law enforcement agencies. At the first sign of trouble, you need to get to the bottom of an internal problem, before it becomes someone’s news story.
DOLCEFINO CONSULTING has the experience and credibility to help.