10 to 1 Public Relations Receives New Review!

At 10 to 1 Public Relations, we know it’s your reputation on the line, so we help clients build and protect their credibility before, during, and after a crisis. It doesn’t happen overnight. You need 10 good things to be said about your company for one bad thing said. That’s why we focus on creating a bank of genuine, positive awareness to build trustworthiness – so you can grow your business today and be more resilient in the future, because your reputation is your credibility. We believe that the best results are those intentionally delivered, working overtime to control the story.

The best product launch PR plan starts with experience. Strategy, execution, media relations – we’ve done it.

Making sure we provide our clients with the best services possible is our number one priority. That’s why we decided to create a profile on Clutch, a B2B ratings and reviews site. This makes it easy to browse real reviews from our clients on their experience with us! In fact, we just received another 5-star review on our profile! An excerpt of the review, along with a project summary can be found below:

“10 to 1 Public Relations’ professionalism and punctuality were impressive.” –Production Manager, Afterthought

Our team helped Afterthought manage a crisis by drafting PR statements that would help to improve the negative situation. We also assisted with customer and community interactions.

Here are some other recent reviews on our profile:

“I have complete confidence in their ability to write content that matches our tone.” –VP Sales & Marketing, Worzalla

“They truly are a team of good people – they’re in it for the long run to get the best results.” –CEO, Envoy America

The value of creating a positive brand image and perception is impossible to calculate, but possible to make the difference when clients are deciding whether to hire you or a competitor. Clutch’s sister site, The Manifest lists top companies and agencies to help you with your search for the perfect partner. Browse through PR firms and read through company descriptions, former clients, and notable projects to find the best fit for your business. See why The Manifest listed us as #2 among 100 of the top PR firms around the world.

Ready to get started or simply looking for more information? Fill out the contact form on our website and someone from our team will get back to you shortly!

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Chances are you’ll be seeing a lot more pink this month, as October marks Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation, 1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime, and this year alone, an estimated 325,000 new cases of breast cancer will be diagnosed in women in the U.S.

1 in 8 women in the United States will develop breast cancer in her lifetime

Our client, Plexus Worldwide, has been supporting women’s health since its inception, with its flagship product the Plexus Breast Chek Kit, designed for women to easily perform monthly self-examinations to help detect changes in their breasts. The company is supporting and recognizing Breast Cancer Awareness Month with pop-up giveaways in the month of October and as part of the Plexus Worldwide Breast Cancer Awareness Month Campaign. The “Pink Wednesday Pop-Up Giveaways” are a social media campaign designed to engage their community and create awareness about self-check breast exams.

Starting Wednesday, October 7, their “Pink Wednesday Pop-Up Giveaways” will occur every Wednesday in October. Followers can participate in their first pop-up giveaway on their Plexus Worldwide Brand Page on Facebook and every other week on their Plexus Worldwide Instagram account. All winners will receive a Breast Chek Kit, in addition to other prizes such as Kate Spade brilliant statements tri-prong stud earrings, Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 Instant Film Camera, Nike Brasilia Just Do It Mini Backpack, and Beats by Dr. Dre Powerbeats Pro Totally Wireless Earphones.

In addition, Ambulnz, an industry leading on-demand ambulance services provider, is drawing attention to Breast Cancer Awareness Month by providing pink ribbon magnets for some of their 350 vehicles in their fleet across the country. In addition, they’re providing pink ribbon lapel pins for their employees to wear and encouraging them to educate themselves and their loved ones on the importance of breast health.

Like these companies, and so many others, October is the perfect time to think about breast health, and the National Breast Cancer Foundation is dedicated to providing educational information from understanding the importance of early detection, to knowing how to prepare for a mammogram. The Foundation has online resources and guides aimed to empower women and men with useful information. In addition to information, there are several different ways you can help, including becoming a community ambassador, sharing your story, or supporting local groups helping to educate the public. Either way, take a moment to read up on breast cancer and encourage the people in your life to do so as well, because when breast cancer is detected early, it can be treated more successfully.

Surviving the Election News Cycle

With fewer than 50 days to go until the 2020 General Election, PR pros and casual news consumers alike will have noticed the continued focus on the election during each news cycle. Election-related stories will continue to be a major part of our daily news diet, even amidst a continuing global pandemic, raging wildfires in the west, discussions about social justice, and other pressing issues.

Local and national media alike have been doing a great job to help voters get the information they need to participate in the electoral process. This is despite documented outside efforts to spread misinformation about the election.

At 10 to 1 Public Relations, we’ve been doing our part to build confidence in the electoral process by helping our client Runbeck Election Services, an elections services company focused on delivering election printing, equipment and software solutions, explain the technicalities of how the vote-by-mail process works. This year, Runbeck is planning to print 15 million vote-by-mail packets, four times more than they produced in 2016, as demand for vote-by-mail soars as a safe method of voting during the pandemic.

In the past few months, we’ve helped connect Runbeck to local and national media to explain how vote-by-mail is a safe and secure process which can be trusted by the voters to deliver legitimate results. Here are just a few recent stories featuring Runbeck:

As we have been working on these stories, we believe there is really one way to survive the oncoming onslaught of election news coverage as we get closer to November 3. Make sure you are paying attention to trusted and verified sources on the election.

Here in Arizona, according to the Arizona Secretary of State, you must register to vote or update your voter registration on or before Monday, October 5 to participate in the 2020 General Election. If you plan to vote by mail, you must request a ballot or join the Permanent Early Voting List (PEVL) on or before Friday, October 23. It is recommended that you mail back your ballot as soon as possible and not after Tuesday, October 27. If you still have your vote-by-mail ballot after October 27, you can drop it off at a voting location or drop box before 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 3.

All Arizona voting information can be found at Arizona.Vote, or visit Vote.org for other state-specific voting information, deadlines, and instructions.

Because one thing is for sure: You can’t complain if you don’t vote.

By Erica Fetherston, Sr. Account Exec. at 10 to 1 Public Relations

5 Tips to Improve Your Awards Entry or Nomination

by Josh Weiss

Similar to receiving media coverage, awards provide third-party credibility to your business or organization.  It’s someone else saying that you’re good, worthy of recognition and praise.

Which makes it surprising that a lot of companies fail to apply for awards. Some may be intimidated by the process or fear the time it will take to gather the requested information.  Others simply don’t view themselves worthy of recognition.  No matter the excuse, it’s a missed opportunity.

The good news is that it “thins the herd,” often reducing the competition for the companies willing to put in a little extra work to submit their nominations.

My team has submitted hundreds of award nominations for our clients (and ourselves) over the years.  In this process, we’ve developed our own internal cheat sheet to maximize the chance of our entries.  

Allow me to share a few of those tips here.

  1. Fill out the entire form.  Ask any awards judge, there are always entries where the nominee leaves out requested information.  Even when it says an item is optional, complete it if possible.  Don’t give the judges any excuse to think you don’t want the award or weren’t willing to put in the time. Don’t create an opening for another nominee to look better than you simply because they filled out the entire nomination form.
  2. Go for the points.  Nearly every award application clearly says what answers judges will be grading you on, and within each question it will specifically list what you are to answer. Most judges are instructed to give each answer a point value (such as one to five). If you fail to answer even a single requested fact or detail, you are likely to lose a point. You won’t gain the point back by answering another detail that was requested twice.  This ensures that everyone is judged equally, against the same criteria. With winners chosen by who gets the most judges points, you need to fight for every point, taking every point available to you. 
  3. Highlight your answers.  As you write your nomination, highlight every detail/response which directly answers a specific element of the question.  For example, a question may ask you to share the problem that you had to fix, followed by examples of tactics used to achieve the desired result, followed by your budget for the project. In your answer, highlight the phrase: the problem was; the tactics we used were; our budget was, etc.  Force the judges to see you answered every required detail within the question to ensure you get the full points available for each answer.
  4. Have a “judge” review your entry before submitting.  It’s always good to have someone review your writing to look for typos or to offer feedback.  When it comes to award submissions, we recommend asking a co-worker or peer not directly involved in the project to review your nomination as a judge would.  Ask them to tick off each detail you answered from the application’s questions. If anything isn’t ticked off, then you need to go back and add it into your application to make sure you get all the points available to improve your submission.
  5. It doesn’t matter if you think you actually deserve to win. We often hear from a client that they want to wait until next year when they think they’ll be more worthy or have a better chance to win. We strongly discourage that approach.  Apply now, and let the judges decide if you’re worthy.  If they don’t choose you, how is that worse than never having applied in the first place?  If they do choose you, all the better. Winning now doesn’t mean the company stops continuing to improve. Plus, applying now might improve your chances of winning next year. I cannot tell you how many companies we’ve nominated are named a finalist the first time they apply, only to win the year after when they demonstrate the improvement front one year to the next.

Once judging is complete, most awards announce their list of finalists to then start promoting the awards event.  When recognized as a finalist, I strongly encourage you to quickly and loudly celebrate this achievement. Immediately put out a press release to celebrate and promote this validation of your company and staff right away.  Add a logo of the award to your website stating that you’re a finalist.

A few weeks later if you learn during the awards ceremony that you won the top prize, you get to start the celebration all over again with a second announcement. If someone else is chosen for the top prize, you already got your moment in the sun and everyone already views you as a winner. And the finalist logo you already added to your website can stay there, continuing to promote your recognition for years to come.

Here’s another nugget we tell our clients. Sometimes it’s better for companies to only be a finalist and NOT win the actual top prize. Why? Because if you’re only a finalist, you’re likely allowed to apply again the next year whereas the winner cannot apply again for several years.  I rather put out several press releases over a couple of years for a client saying they were repeatedly recognized as an excellent company, than a one-time announcement.

Finally, I simply encourage you to apply. Worst that happens is you’re not chosen- which is the same result than not having applied at all. Plus, even if not selected, by completing the nomination it reminds you and your team all that your company is achieving, regardless of if the judge sees it or not. It might just be the morale boost you or your team needs at that moment to internally recognize your successes.

To Hibernate or Accelerate. That is the COVID Business Question.

To Hibernate or Accelerate. That is the COVID Business Question.

A lot of business leaders are worried, and unsure what to do.  I get it.  Initially I was too but luckily, I’m past that stage.

Early in the crisis, I read a blog on LinkedIn written by an acquaintance, small business owner Derrick Mains, Founder of Playbook Systems and President of Phat Scooters. The blog had a big effect on me and gave me confidence in choosing my own path forward through the COVID crisis.

The Lookback

Here’s the gist… at least what I took from it. 

The blog talked about the fear that many companies have about going backwards in a bad economy, and how to prepare, protect, react, and recover from business setbacks. Too many business owners are stunned into paralysis if they have a big drop in revenue or business and are unsure what to do—putting the survival of the company itself at risk.

Instead, he suggests that business owners actually DO know what to do- because they’ve already been there. He refers to it as “the Lookback.”

If a million-dollar business loses 20%, it already knows what the company should look like at $800,000 because the company has already been there. He suggested simply going back to the same staffing levels, expenses, and footprint you had at that income level, then rebuilding yourself back up to that million-dollar company the same way you did the first time.

That thought process really resonated with me, removing my own fears of what I would do if my company, which had been steadily growing, started trending backwards in the new economy. With a potential path forward removing my impending paralysis, I didn’t feel the need to hibernate. Instead I choose to try and accelerate my business.

Hibernate vs Accelerate

When I say hibernate, I’m referring to companies taking a more defensive, protection-orient approach. Many of these companies are using the strategy of hording their cash and reducing expenses with plans to ride out this crazy time by retaining enough resources to quickly rebuild.

In contrast, companies that chose to accelerate took more risks and essentially “doubled down” during uncertain times. Working harder and faster in an attempt to pivot or grow their business while their competitors were sitting it out or waiting to see how things turned out before charting a path forward.

Both strategies are sound, and both can backfire. It’s really a decision of risk and comfort as you can’t choose either half-way and succeed.

Our Decision to Accelerate

Early March I made the decision to accelerate. With so many PR and marketing agencies struggling, a big piece of our strategy was to make sure everyone knew that we were strong, and that we were going to thrive in the new economy.  

I started by talking to my staff and making sure they felt personally safe, knowing that we’re full steam ahead. Even if we lost a few clients in the short term, we could weather the hits so not to become afraid or distracted. With the team confident that their jobs were safe, consciously and subconsciously they can pass that confidence along to our clients and others in the community.   

Next, I reached out to clients and asked if they needed help or flexibility in the short term. While our client base is pretty diverse, we still have some travel and real estate related clients who were getting hammered or faced a lot of uncertainty. Our early offer of flexibility not only demonstrated our good will, but potentially stopped clients from leaving, even if some had to initially pause or alter their budgets. To our great delight, several of the effected clients were able to return to their pre-COVID scopes of work within a few months- something that surprised us both. Had we not been flexible up front, we might have lost them altogether.   

The next major thing we did was invest back into the company. I renewed organizational memberships and subscriptions early, while I knew we had the money available in case I needed to stretch dollars later in the year. 

I also invested in advertising while others were pulling back. This gave us better placements at lower rates while other companies were hibernating.  Sure, fewer companies were looking for PR help, but there were also much fewer “window shoppers”. The few who were looking were much hotter leads and were much more likely to sign a contract with us, or someone else.

The strategy paid off quickly. While most agencies were losing clients, we added several new long-term clients. Some were COVID related, others were not. We celebrated these wins, announcing them to demonstrate that we were “open for business” at a time when a lot of companies were avoiding the news. This led to even more prospect interest and new conversations with additional companies.

Finally, we started offering free advice and PR tips to businesses that weren’t in a position to pay us. We created a series of 2-minute videos of COVID-19 Crisis PR Tips and shared them widely via social media. We offered free workshops through the Better Business Bureau and local Chambers giving away ideas and advice. Short term we knew this wouldn’t “pay off.” We just viewed it as the right thing to do, with the hope that it might show long-term benefits while growing our brand recognition in the short-term. 

What’s Next?

Now that we’re moving past the initial months and the initial shock of COVID, I’m predicting two big changes for the second half of 2020 that will again alter the health of economy and reposition companies long-term.

First, with the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) coming to an end, we’re likely to see a lot more layoffs in the coming weeks as the employee protections expire. We’re also likely to see a lot of companies announcing that they’re closing for good or entering bankruptcy. While the first wave of job losses particularly hurt hourly workers in the restaurant and hospitality industry, this next wave is likely to hit salaried workers even harder.

Second, I am predicting that more business leaders are going to start taking more risks as they realize that this new abnormal is going to last through 2020 and into 2021 until a vaccine is fully distributed. Hibernating companies are starting to peek their heads out again, trying to figure out how to pivot themselves in the new economy. This will create partnership opportunities for companies, and threats to others as they see competitors get more active and offer new variations to compete.

And that’s just the business-related changes in the second half of 2020. I’m not even talking about the news coverage related distractions (and likely chaos) with rolling COVID hot zones, the upcoming restart of professional sports (assuming they actually restart), social justice movements happening across the country, the start of the new school year (k-12, and college), and the November election.  

Predicting the future is impossible right now. All companies can do is choose a path. Accelerate or Hibernate. As for my current strategy, we’re keeping our foot on the accelerator. By helping our clients to grow and succeed, we help our own company as well. We believe that pushing for and securing a strong finish in 2020, it will carry us into 2021 and the new abnormal. 

And if we do take a few steps backwards– like a lot of companies will—there’s comfort in knowing that we’ve been there before and already know the path forward.

— written by Josh Weiss, President of 10 to 1 Public Relations

It’s Okay to Have Imposter Syndrome

Do you ever feel like an imposter? That at some point other people will realize you don’t have the answers? Here’s what got me thinking about these questions.

One of our clients hosts an annual convention each year where more than 10,000 people gather at a big resort to celebrate their success and to introduce new products.  We’ve attended the event for the last six years, and it’s a really well-done event. Last year was in Las Vegas, and this year was supposed to be in Nashville, but COVID-19 forced it to become a virtual event.

Anyway, this year’s virtual convention is just days away, but it got me thinking about last year’s event. One of the breakout sessions featured one of the more successful Ambassadors (Independent Sales Representatives) where she admitted to a room full of her peers of equal stature (around 1,000 people) that she was an imposter. She said she felt like a fraud. That people were fools on her team to think she knew all the answers and knew exactly what to do all the time. In truth, she was just making it up as she went along. Trying to copy what her mentors were doing and demonstrating for their teams and demonstrating it to her own team.

I thought she was talking about me. A year later, I still do.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m still extremely confident in my team on the work we’re doing for clients. I’m proud that we’ve won a lot of awards for our work. I’m thrilled that we continue to grow and have added clients despite COVID – that we’ve adapted to new realities that will result in us coming out of COVID stronger than when it started. All the same, I keep looking at my team and others in the industry expecting them to finally realize that I’m an imposter. That I don’t have all the answers and that I’m making it up as we go along.

And that’s the point. The point the convention presenter made in her confession. It’s okay to feel like an imposter, and it’s okay not to know all the answers. The key is to share the answers you do have as it helps lift those around you up.  It’s okay, no, completely appropriate as a leader to ask for opinions of your team and of those you consider mentors to help you make decisions when you’re unsure of what to do next.

I’m lucky to have a team where I can ask and trust their opinion. I’m lucky to be part of IPREX, an exclusive network of independent PR firms from around the globe where I can ask dumb questions and learn from leader of other amazing PR agencies that I’d love to emulate.

What I’ve learned is that it’s not a one-way street. They’re asking me questions back and requesting my opinion too.  Just as that convention speaker told the group, just because you feel like an imposter sometimes, it doesn’t mean you don’t have value to add.

Here’s the sad truth. We’re all just a bunch of posers seeking validation and approval. Imposter syndrome can be real, but it doesn’t change the work that needs to be done. It doesn’t change what you already know and can share with others. The final lesson is to follow your gut even when it’s not popular or when you’re unsure of what to do. Because in the end, you’re the one staring yourself in the mirror once time tells you if you were right or wrong.

– Josh Weiss, President of 10 to 1 Public Relations

Video Series: Public Relations Tips To Get Through COVID-19

As the novel coronavirus has spread across the globe, business as we have known it has been upended. While we work together to stop the spread of COVID-19, there are things companies can be doing to position themselves to withstand the pandemic, help the community, and ultimately come out of this crisis stronger.

Public relations can play a role in delivering on these goals. 10 to 1 President Josh Weiss has created a video series of brief videos to give you ideas on how you can best position your company utilizing basic public relations and crisis communications tactics.

You can check out our video series below or on our YouTube page.

PR & COVID-19: Share Your Expertise


PR & COVID-19: Find Opportunity for Every Story


PR & COVID-19: Walk Through Your Warehouse


PR & COVID-19: Pivoting The Right Way


PR & COVID-19: Follow The Leader


PR & COVID-19: Be Honest With Your Customers


More videos will be added on a regular basis – stay tuned!

12 Tips for Successful At-Home Remote Video Interviews with the Media

You’ve landed a remote interview with a television station, congratulations! How do you make sure it goes well and you get your message across? How can you best avoid any technology failures or unwanted interruptions?

There are several things to keep in mind to ensure that you are prepared for the interview, both when it comes to visuals and audio.


1. Ensure you have the proper technology. Things to consider:

  • Make sure that you have the appropriate video software downloaded to your computer and that it is the most updated version.
  • If you have an external camera and/or microphone, ensure they are set up and working.
  • You can use headphones during the interview to enhance your audio, as the microphone will be higher quality than a standard computer microphone and be closer to your mouth to pick up your sound better. However, do not use large over-ear headphones as they will not look appealing on camera. Earbuds are recommended. If they are corded, use the one side with the microphone and hide the cord as best you can.

2. Identify your interview location. This should be a room in your home that has a door that can be closed to shut out unwanted interruptions. It should also be as close as possible to your internet router to ensure you have a strong internet connection.

3. Set up your space. Things to pay attention to:

  • Light source – You want to avoid any light coming from behind you. If you have to position yourself in front of a window, close the blinds. A “fancy” at home set up will include a “ring light” that will cast a favorable light on your face to make you look your best. If you do not have access to a ring light but your face lacks the proper lighting, find a lamp in your home that you can position that shines some light on your face.
  • Background – You don’t want a cluttered space in the background, but you also don’t want it to be barren. Positioning a bookshelf behind you is usually an appealing visual. Doublecheck the bookcase before the interview to ensure that all of the viewable titles are appropriate. If you don’t have a bookshelf, you can use a small table or desk behind you to arrange some memorabilia like photos or other décor for some visual interest. If you have merchandise or props related to your interview/company, they should be placed somewhere in the video frame.
  • Set up a comfortable chair – You will want to be seated during the interview to prevent any random movements that may be distracting. Avoid a swivel chair if possible.
  • Camera/Computer Position – Depending on how you will be seated, you will want to set up your computer or camera so that it is elevated. The camera should be level with your eyes for the optimal image. Elevate your computer by using a laptop stand or a stack of books. For the best framing, you’ll want to position the camera about an arm’s length away from you.

4. Run a Test. Using the appropriate video software with any external equipment set up, run a test call with a friend or colleague to ensure that your video and audio are working well and that you are happy with your setup.


5. Prevent any noise interruptions. Items to check off:

  • Turn your phone to “do not disturb” mode.
  • Put a sign on your door that says, “do not disturb.” If necessary, do the same for your front door and ask people not to ring the doorbell.
  • Alert family members of your interview time and request that they stay quiet or in another part of the house.
  • Hide pets in another room for the duration of the interview.

6. Wear the appropriate clothing. Avoid bright patterns or colors that would blend in with your background. Solid pastels are best. Do not wear bright white or green, as these colors do not work well on screen.

7. Keep your body in check. Things to keep in mind:

  • Check your posture. While seated, make sure you are sitting straight up. Roll your shoulders back to check you have the right posture.
  • Stop bouncing your legs. It’s normal to experience some nerves before or during an interview. Keep your feet planted to avoid bouncing your legs.
  • Watch your hands. Some people are very expressive with their hands when they speak. This can be distracting during a video interview. Try to keep your hands in your lap while you’re speaking for the most part, a little hand motion during some of the interview is okay.
  • Grab a glass of water to keep by your setup in case it is needed during the interview.

8. Speak slowly and clearly. Speak more slowly than you normally would, it may sound weird to you but it will help you reduce the number of “ums” and allow the viewers to better follow your messaging.

9. Keep eye contact with the camera. It may feel awkward not looking at the computer screen when answering the reporter’s questions, but you’ll look your best for the interview when you are looking directly at the camera while you are speaking.


10. Thank the reporter. Ask if there is anything else that you can do to help them with the story. If the interview was recorded and will be used later, ask when they anticipate the interview will air.

11. Send b-roll and photos. If the interview was recorded, send the reporter any additional b-roll or photos that could help enhance their story.

12. Share the interview. Once the interview has aired or been posted, share it far and wide via your social media channels and email newsletter! Be sure to also post it to the media or blog page of your website. 

Following these tips should guarantee a successful remote at-home video interview. It is particularly important to consider these tips at this time while the coronavirus pandemic has forced many television news stations to shift operations and prioritize remote interviews like these. By providing an excellent interview, it’s more likely that you’ll be invited back for another interview in the future.

— written by Erica Fetherston, Sr. Account Exec at 10 to 1 Public Relations

The First 24 Hours of a Crisis: Offer Questions, NOT Answers

Boom.  Out of nowhere, a crisis hits your company or community. As the leader, everyone’s turning to you.  In part to see how you react, but mostly for instruction confirming how they’re supposed to respond. 

Everyone’s turning to you for answers- but that’s the last thing you should be doing during the first 24 hours of a crisis.  Your job the first 24 hours is to ask questions, and to avoid giving answers.

The first questions you ask should be directed to your employees.  What do they need to deal with the immediate problem? How can you help get them the help they need, quickly? These questions not only demonstrate your support to your team but instructs them to take action.

The next set of questions are to gather information.  How many people were initially, directly affected by the crisis issue?  Follow that with questions about how to prevent new victims from being negatively affected by the same crisis in the coming hours.

These questions upfront are necessary to gather the information you need to make strategic decisions and ultimately later, proclamations for the future.

Even when talking to reporters, customers or the public, you should still focus on asking questions during the first 24 hours, not giving answers.

During the first 24 hours avoid making declarative statements or accusations against others that commit you or your company to certain actions. Avoid giving definitive answers or suggesting long-term solutions that could be considered controversial as your statement will come across as opportunistic instead of as a genuine solution.

The only initial statements you should make are holding statements (see our earlier blog entitled Part 1 of what to do in a PR crisis). Otherwise, you essentially should be rephrasing and sharing the questions you asked your staff and the answers you were given.  Basically you’re going to say that your team is still investigating details of the incident to make sure it never happens again, but your immediate priority is to better understand the full impact to those effected and how best, and most quickly to help them.

It’s only on day two, after more facts are known and cooler heads prevail, that you can start delivering answers and rallying support for specific actions. 

If there’s a general uproar over the crisis, you can also ask rhetorical questions.  For example, if the crisis is a criminal act made against your company, ask aloud who would do such a heinous thing effecting so many. Share in the public outcry and frustration, but be careful in pointing blame outwards if you suspect a member of your team might be involved.

As the leader, your job when a crisis hits is to ask questions and support your teams in resolving the immediate threat.  After the immediate pressure of the crisis subsides, your job refocuses into identifying what caused the problem and initiating a long-term fix to avoid a repeat of the crisis and regain the confidence of your customers and the public.

A fantastic example and story of how to deploy the 24 hours of questions before providing answers strategy can be heard in a podcast called Without Fail where in an episode featuring Dayton, Ohio Mayor Nan Whaley talks about the immediate aftermath of the mass shooting outside a Dayton entertainment area called the Oregon District. Here’s a link to the episode https://gimletmedia.com/shows/without-fail/v4h8ow including a transcript of the discussion.

Does Your Company Have a Media Emergency Playbook?

How your Company Can Win By Preparing for a Media Crisis Like It’s a Game.

Remember from childhood the game “Mad Libs”?  It’s the grammar game where there’s a one-page story with a bunch of missing words in the narrative.  The game leader asks the other kids to yell out what’s called for in the blank space- like a Verb, or a City name, a person’s occupation, an Adjective, etc.  After all the missing words are filled in, the game leader reads the now silly story to the enjoyment of the other kids who help contribute to the narrative. 

Games are fun, but some games are more important to win than others.  If you want to your company to win during a media emergency/PR crisis, you need to prepare in advance.  One way to win is by copying the Mad Libs game structure to creating a media emergency playbook your company can use when needed.

Let’s face it, it’s not IF a media emergency will occur, but WHEN.  A bad response can create a significant, lasting negative perception for a company, while a well-handled crisis can earn you long-term customer, employee and investor loyalty. The good news is that it’s possible to manage a crisis well, aided a little bit of planning.

Here are some tips to create a media emergency response plan.

Start by creating a list of the five most likely negative crisis scenarios that could happen to your company. 

For example, if you have employees driving company branded vehicles, a likely crisis could be a bad crash.  If you have employees performing manual, skilled labor, maybe there’s potential for a significant injury or loss of life. If you handle personal information or credit card information, there’s a significant risk of a hack or stolen data.

Create a one or two paragraph written statement for each scenario of how you would respond. 

The initial statement is simply to acknowledge the issue and demonstrate to the public and media that you’re taking the issue seriously and professionally and are investigating it to gather more facts.  It isn’t supposed to be detailed nor is it to explain how you’re fixing the problem.

This initial statement (often called a holding statement) will give you time to provide a more meaningful update (several hours or even a day) later, when you would share more details and examples of how you’re dealing with the situation.

Get sign-off from Executives, Legal team, etc. on your proposed statement.

Get approvals for your template statements now, before the crisis scenario actually occurs.  Examples would be Executives or the Legal team, who most normally would delay a response in the moment because they’d insist on reviewing and wordsmithing it first.  With your pre-approved response, all you’ll need to do is “fill in the blanks” and update some of the details like names, locations, other vital stats, etc.  With the initial media statement out of the way, you will save the entire team significant time allowing them to focus on the actual crisis and to help get it resolved.  Your fast response will also help protect your reputation and influence the public’s response when they learn about the crisis.

Start over and create another list of five potential scenarios which may be less likely to occur, but which scare you (or your CEO) the most. 

Maybe it’s a #MeToo scenario, or fear of an employee being arrested at work even though their crime has nothing to do with your business.  Go through the same process of preparing a short response and getting Executive and Legal approvals.

Strategically share the Media Emergency Playbook with key Executives and company spokespeople.

Not everyone should get a copy of your template responses.  Only share it with the handful of people most likely and authorized to share them with reporters on short notice.  These aren’t public documents for all to see in advance.  While the circle of people with copies should be small, it needs to be a large enough group where the people who ultimately need them can’t locate or find them. Especially in the event the most obvious people are on vacation and/or unreachable. 

While there’s a lot more to be done to properly prepare for, let alone handle, a crisis, having a “Mad Libs” style media emergency playbook is a great start for any company.