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How to Skate Circles Around a Media Crisis
Play your PR strategy like a hockey game.
 More of this Feature
 Don't be a puck hog!
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 The Rules of Hockey

by Richard Perry

Richard PerryStanley Cup champions have to bump and bash their way through plenty of obstacles before they drink from the cup of hockey supremacy. Don't expect to get through a media crisis without some rough stuff in the corners either. Here are a dozen tips to keep you out of the PR penalty box.

1. Have your best player on the ice.

Select the right spokesperson - a leader who has a strong grasp of the issues and can communicate effectively with reporters. A CEO who lacks media skills should be trained properly or kept out of high-profile media encounters.

2. Analyze video from  previous games.

Every organization has blind spots that can lead to embarrassing media gaffes. Study previous media clips. Read what the press are saying about you. Develop a media relations strategy to mend fences or create new opportunities.

3. Defensemen: clear that slot!

Your goaltender is most vulnerable to shots from close in. Make sure your own employees and clients are never surprised by information going out to the public. Leaks to the media from your own staff or important stakeholders make great fodder for negative media stories.

4. Don't take dumb penalties in their end of the rink.

It drives coaches bananas. Avoid making outrageous, inflammatory statements that can prolong a media crisis. We are living in politically correct times. You can be frank and honest without making provocative statements.

5. Take Wayne Gretzky's advice: Skate to where the puck will be.

Anticipation, anticipation, anticipation - the cardinal rules of media relations. The interview itself should never be the first time you hear the tough questions. Role play before every media encounter.

6. Watch your tongue around the referee.

The captain might get away with occasional salty language, but players must stay away from religious, cultural or sexist statements that can offend the fans and come back to haunt you.

  Next page > Don't be a puck hog! > Page 1, 2

Richard Perry is a Canadian media training specialist 
serving government and private clients. 
He can be reached at

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