Week 3 – Ch 3 & 4

Choose one question to answer – be sure to respond to others posts and take part in our online discussions!

Chapter 3 question for discussion:

In these days of swift delivery of information, often the news media inform the organization of its crisis. What are the advantages of knowing about your crisis before the news media? This also points to the need to have a positive relationship with the news media, so that you may be notified before, or as soon as, news is delivered via broadcast or Internet (see Johnson & Johnson and the Tylenol Murders). What should an organization do to maintain this positive relationship?

Evaluate the pre-crisis relationships at the places of business where you have worked (or where you work now). Were the pre-crisis relationships sound? Consider all types, including management–employee, management–news media, management–lawyer, and management–customer/client pre-crisis relationships.

Chapter 4 questions for discussion:

Search for and discuss crises or problems in your city or community. This could include businesses where you work or a political situation where a crises occurred. If so, how were the news media managed? What was the contact with lawyers? Did lawyers control the communications? What was the communication with internal publics? What was the communication with external publics?

What are the risks or dangers of not responding to the news media even when the information is negative to your organization?   Why is it best to tell one’s own bad news?


22 thoughts on “Week 3 – Ch 3 & 4

  1. I chose to do the chapter 3 discussion.

    The advantages of knowing about your crisis before the news media is you have more time to prepare the information that will be presented to the media. You want to be able to be honest and give as much information as you can to the media. This will show others you have the situation under control. You also don’t want to wait too long to talk to the media because an unreliable source could give the media false information. By being an honest and professional Public Relations Specialists, will show journalists that you have credibility and make them want to work with you. So when a crisis does happen, they can help alert you before then situation is leaked to other media.

    The last crisis that happened at one of my places of employment recently was a fellow restaurant employee was injured at work due to a broken machine, which was known by management. A spark from a broken bread machine flew into the eye of the employee. The managers immediately attended to the employees needs then made sure that the other employees was aware that the machine was broken by placing a broken sign over the machine and by physically telling them. The employee said they were fine and signed a document stating that they didn’t wish to seek further medical attention. From there, the managers wrote up the incident and sent it in to corporate along with a copy of the signed document from the employee. The machine wasn’t used until it was replaced and the managers now pay a closer attention to the maintenance of the machines.

    • Kaiti, I like that you brought up the image of having the situation under control. As we witnessed in class last week, even when we have prepared ourselves we sometimes lose that sense of control when interacting with the media. Just imagine having NO preparation and trying to answer media questions calmly and effectively…not going to happen. So having that extra time to show the media that you have it under control will hopefully result in more positive stories. I also think it will ease the fears of any publics that may have been harmed or affected by the crisis. If they see that you’re confident in fixing the problem, they might not feel the need to worry or attack the company as much.

      – Cherese

    • I am glad to hear that your coworker wasn’t seriously hurt from this incident, Kaitlyn! I agree with the steps the company took to respond to that situation. Attending to the employee first is critical since they were injured. Having that employee sign the paperwork is a great way to have proof that the company did respond and attend to that employee’s needs (just in case the media or that employee decide to say something else). If I was a part of the management team there, I would have a new communications plan focused on employees having an easy and quick way to inform management of defective machinery in the workplace (to help prevent this from happening again). The main function of this plan would be to get that defective machinery replaced as soon as possible.
      Laura Taylor

  2. I chose to reply to the Chapter 3 question.

    The first advantage of knowing your crisis before the media is so you aren’t caught off guard by the media. If a reporter were to call wanting comment on something you don’t know about, it may seem as if your covering something up when you are unable to give them a response. Another advantage is so you can be one step ahead of them in the information gathering process. If the crisis involves an employee, you could gather the information from the employee before outsides sources can. This will allow for a more quality crafted response to the crisis from the organization when the media eventually does come calling. I believe that crisis situations are one of the reasons that some companies want PR people that have had experience in journalism. Thinking like a reporter is key to staying one step ahead of the media. It seems that PR can have a love/hate relationship with the media. On one hand, you need the media when you want positive messages about your company transmitted at no cost. On the other hand, the media can be your worst enemy when a crisis breaks. Knowing how and what the media wants is very important. Since time is precious during a crisis, knowing what the journalists will be looking into can save you as the PR person from wasting time. Gathering the information that the journalist would want is key.

    I think that having a positive relationship with certain members in the media is very important. This can be established first by being honest, and giving certain members comment so they can meet their deadlines. When I worked as a news writer, I developed a relationship with a few PR people who I knew I could trust, and would make sure they respected my deadlines. Because of our mutual respect, I would never run a story dealing with who they represented without asking for comment first, or at least for any clarification of facts. This mutual respect is important to develop, and can benefit both sides. This is why it’s a good idea for a PR rep to reach out to the media, so they don’t run with sketchy facts. If they know they can trust you because you provide honest information, they will always come to you before running a story.

    While working at Jet’s Pizza, we recently had an internal type of crisis, as one of my fellow drivers was held up at gunpoint and robbed of hundreds of dollars. We have rules and regulations in place that we had become a bit lazy with. We usually don’t keep more than 50 dollars on us, but our money dropping procedures wained. Immediately after the robbery, management realized it was time to review all policies so something like this didn’t happen again. Delivery procedures were reviewed, money drops were intensified, and employees were retrained about how to keep an eye out for suspicious orders. Because we became more strict with rules, it was important to let our customers know about our updated procedures. The robber was caught later that month after he tried to hold up another driver from a different pizza place. The media also reported the robberies, which I thought was important so customers could also make sure to keep lights on and help with protecting our drivers. I had hoped we would have contacted the local media after the initial robbery, as an armed robbery in a nice suburb (Canton) would have probably turned heads. But our management likes to keep these sorts of things internal, not wanting to scare off business. Maybe they will rethink these sort of policies in the future, and understand the media can help and isn’t just a business’ enemy.

    Sam Plymale

    • I really like how you used the term “love//hate” because i completely agree. My friend is a journalist for the Macomb Daily and we always discuss the “love/hate” relationship. I believe it’s because journalist may assume that that’s all PR professionals do is spin. Do you believe that?

      Held up at gun point! That’s terrifying for anyone. Did that make other drivers not want to work there anymore? Keeping minor issues internal can be important so you don’t scare off your customers but i think on major issues it’s important to be public. Like the driver being held up at gun point, by the media covering this, it shows the audience that this isn’t tolerated, it will be reported and they will be caught.

      • Ok- now that we’ve begun talking about the relationship between PR folk and Jrnl folk I’m going to share this video.

        Watch IT!!!

        This is Sam and Ralph – the coyote and the sheep dog. They both are “friends,” but when the go to work they both respect the job the other does. They check in each morning and check out each day and in between they work doing their own jobs.

        Make sense? This is a great depiction of the relationship of PR pros and Journalists. What do you think?


    • Sam, you brought up a point that comes up quite often when talking about PR practitioners and journalists: knowing what the journalist wants or needs. Like you said, you don’t want to spend time gathering information that’s going to be useless to the journalist. If you know what they want, you can cater the information you gather and organize it to fit what they need to write a true story. Some PR professionals may make the mistake of giving any piece of information to the journalist in hopes that they’ll disappear, when in reality it only causes the journalist to go elsewhere looking for another source. The advantage of extra time gives you the opportunity to construct a message that gets your main points across while at the same time satisfying the journalist’s writing needs and wants.

      – Cherese

    • I really like the last sentence of your post. The media is looked at like it’s a monster but in reality it can be very helpful. Informing the media about a crisis, especially one that is threatening others’ safety, can be seen as a positive thing (as the organization would be informing the public about the danger-so they could help prevent future problems). Looking at the situation through management’s eyes, though, I can see why they didn’t want the news to know about the situation. It would’ve made the company look lazy and it would’ve made the public think that the company didn’t care about their employees’ safety. I am glad that everything turned out okay, though!
      Laura Taylor

    • Sam, you said something critical here “Thinking like a reporter is key to staying one step ahead of the media.” Exactly – we as PR practitioners must think like the media. It’s our job to understand what moves they may make and it’s our job to prepare.

      it’s like a good game of chess!


  3. I choose to answer the discussion question for Chapter 3.

    When talking about advantages to being ahead of the media, I think the number one thing that comes up is time. If you catch wind of a crisis coming up before the media, you have time to plan and organize what you’ll say and do once the media does know. It may not be by much time, but that little bit of extra time can mean wonders to the company that’s just been hit with a crisis bomb. I think it makes the difference between ‘golden seconds’ and ‘golden minutes.’ With the companies having that extra time to gather their thoughts, they’ll be more prepared for what the media may throw their way. It takes away the pressure of wanting to lie or withhold information, which is detrimental if the company wants to create or maintain those positive relationships with the media.

    I think the most important thing to keep the relationship with the media positive is to be honest. It’s as simple as that. The media will respect you a lot more if you’re honest in your mistakes than if you try to hide them. Not to mention, they’ll call you out on your bluffs and make you look even worse. While a PR practitioner and journalist each have their own agenda, I think they are similar in the fact that they want their publics/audiences to have the true story. Therefore, if you throw the media a bone, they’ll give you some slack, but if you try and drag them along, they’ll throw your image into the hands of the public to be picked apart. No, PR practitioners and journalists don’t have to be best friends, but I think the respect for each other’s jobs has to be there. The relationship may even get to the point where some journalists ask for your story first before printing a story or where you, as the PR practitioner, call up a media source you can trust for an exclusive.

    The last crisis that occurred at my place of work was when a student passed out in the middle of class as a result of a health issue. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does our office is well-prepared with a plan of action. When something like this happens, the professor of the class is to immediately tell us in the main office. While one of the student workers is calling the campus paramedics, the other is informing the department head of the incident. The department head then goes to the location of the student to make sure no one and nothing will interfere with the paramedics reaching the student. Also, to make sure no one else gets hurt. If the department head is not in the office, it goes down the line of authority. Sometimes a student worker is the only one who can go and make sure everything is being taken care of properly. Once the student in question is taken care of, we check for anything that may cause another incident, fix it and then go back to our business. While the office environment may not have any major crisis, we are pretty well-prepared if a student being harmed in the building turns into something greater.

    – Cherese

    • I think the key word you stated was respect. Journalists and PR people have to have respect for one another. If you want to be respected by a journalist, respecting their deadlines and position is a good way to gain their respect in return. Trust is also another important element that you covered. Relationships that work best are based on trust, not only socially but in professional relationships as well.


    • Cherese, I like how you used the word “well-prepared” I think us as media professionals should always have in the back of our minds “How can we stay calm when something major oocurs?” Just being human, when a crisis occur, we instantly loose it and forget the morals of how to stay focused. However, being media professionals or PR practitioners, we have to have that special technique of staying calm and being well-prepared for when a crisis does actually happens.

    • Do you think PR have the advantage over the Journalist?

      I kind of believe the journalist has the advantage because they could always make or break someone, kind of like an evil Ex girl/boyfriend

      • I think journalist have the advantage because they can create a story and tell it from a posotive perspective or a negative one. They can use language that makes a company look suspecious or they could ask questions that are bias and create a story that is not in favor of a company. Journalist are realy good with wordplay which can make people second guess their opinion and trust in a company. PR people can try to say all the right things but if the story has already been broken and the rumors are already out it just makes everything look like a cover up.

  4. There are quite a few advantages to knowing about your crisis before the news media. A major benefit to knowing ahead of time is that your company has some time to prepare for the possible media attention (for example, they can figure out what they will say) and the organization can start to take actions to solve the problem. Being able to show the media that the company has taken action quickly will help to put the organization in a positive light during the crisis. There are a couple of things that a company can do to maintain a positive relationship with the media. First of all, they should respect the media. By this I mean, that the company sends press releases when appropriate (they don’t send releases out about non-newsworthy items) and they send the press releases to the appropriate people (not to reporters that do not cover that type of news). By taking the time to make sure that the news reporters are respected, the company will gain the respect of the reporters. If the organization doesn’t waste reporters’ time, the reporters will take notice of that.
    At my first job, I was working for a video game company. Looking back on that time, the pre-crisis relationships were not all that sound. A lot of the employees did not get along. Because of this, work did not always run smoothly and I feel as though if there was a crisis at our store, everything would have been a mess. I can guarantee you that employees that shouldn’t be talking to the media would have been and the media would’ve been getting misinformed about the situation. I believe that our manager would’ve been able to communicate with the media in a positive way but again, the employees’ lack of respect for each other would have caused some major problems.
    Laura Taylor

    • Creating an intial crisis plan helps with being prepared. In the sample online and in our books you will see sample statements – these are used in an effort to pre-plan.

      As we’ve learned it’s not a matter of “if” a crisis will occur, it’s “when.”

      That’s how we as PR pros stay ahead of the crisis.

    • What video game business did you work at if you don’t mind me asking?? Anyway, you are right, showing that a crisis is being dealt with in a quick manner is the first step to help regain or maintain a positive reputation. Many times in the public eye, if a business responds swiftly, a spark won’t turn into a flame or a full blown fire. If a quality crisis plan is created, some possible crises can be averted before they are even viewed as crises by the public. Sometimes small “inconveniences” become crises because the organization just doesn’t know how to react or deal with it initially, then the poor handling of something becomes the focus of media scrutiny. Having a good plan allows for quick responses, even to the smallest of crises.


  5. I chose Chapter 4 discussion/question
    In my community of Dearborn, ABE Beydoun, and co-defendant Deangelo Wade was sentenced jail time for their roles in a Plymouth Township Mortgage fraud scam. The two realtors committed mortgage fraud and false tax returns for years 2006-2008. Beydoun and Wade were ordered to pay $200 in restitution with a $224,000 IRS payment with an extra $1.8 million to repay FDIC fines.
    However, Plymouth Township Real Estate Company did not respond to these allegations that their realtors committed. Attorney Barbara McQuade had referenced back to the media saying she contends to continue to stop mortgage fraud from happening in Michigan. Therefore, an attorney was opened to the public to share risky information about mortgage fraud to the public. Maybe Plymouth Township Real Estate Company was ordered to be silent or gave let their lawyers be the voice for the company. I found it unreliable for Plymouth Township Real Estate Company not to respond to the fraud or the millions lost due to the fraud scandal.
    Internal publics were managed well, because IndyMac Bank was notified of the fraud due to them being one of Plymouth’s bank investors and being the bank that distributed loans that was related to this fraud. External publics weren’t taken care of like it should have been, because it was only one story reported based on this fraud scam. Therefore, if I just recently invested in a mortgage deal with Plymouth Real Estate, and somehow my deal took part or was related to this fraud scam, I would’ve been in the dark on this situation and probably taken to jail. That’s why it is very important for a company to speak out to the public, especially in these types of cases. However, their risks of not responding could have caused their business to close, and the company could have been charged with other related crimes that could have had a significant connection to this fraud scam. I would of like to see Plymouth Real Estate Company personnel speak for the company about a resolution or even reinforce to customers that their mortgage deals are safe; I would of like to see the company’s concern for their customers, investors, and financial assistance.

  6. Sorry, i’ve been having a ton of internet finding problums and I can certainly anwser your questions but I’m going to focus on question one, which is fist, knowing the crisis before hand is always the advantage no matter what situation. It’s kind of simular to getting anwsers to a quiz, two hours before a quiz begins. You have a major advantage to getting your information together much before the public can develop questions to ask. As we demonstrated in class with our previous test, were we had PR’s against Journalist. With PR knowing the issue, at the same time as the journalist, you could see how well prepared the PR people were, knowing what the journalist would ask before the interview actually began. That was at the same time as knowing the same information as a journalist, I could only imagine the amout of advantage PR officials have, knowing the issues before hand.

    Also, having a positive relationship with the news media will also be a must, knowing the information the news may have with the public works equally as effective as your company providing information to the media before anyone else knows, as long as honesty is the golden key being provided, both parties, the journalist and the PR will equally help each other. Both parties should keep this relatuionship professional along with honestly in order to keep things beneficial for all.

    The pre-crisis plan at my jobs currently (The EMU student Center) is actually very sound and present as this building has a precaution for pretty much, any situation possible and it’s informed to the co-workers from the moment you begin, on what to do in case of a bomb threat, to a over-flowing toilet. After working in this building for so long, I’ve seen a great amount of crisis situations, but the crisis management for my job currently has a top standard, seeing as how this building is key for students on campus.

  7. In response to Chapter 3’s question..
    I feel that it is imperative to maintain a positive relationship with the media. Having a great relationship with them will help create a very positive image for the company and creates lines of communication along with trust so when crisis do occur it’s not breaking news that shakes up your company and causes potential damage to its image.

    Some advantages of knowing your crisis before the media is that it gives you time to rebound and correct what’s wrong. The company can evaluate how they are going to respond and what they are going to tell the media so that there is not speculation and rumors that are misleading and would hurt the company. Knowing your crisis can help the cause meaning that if you is caught doing wrong you have to explain yourself and it makes you look bad. If you confess and admit your faults then people are more likely to forgive you and understand that we are all human and mistakes happen, no one thing or person is perfect. Having that extra time can also help come up with a solution to solving the problem and putting in affect the efforts that are being made to make things normal again.

    The biggest thing companies need to do when it comes to the media is be real. Keeping the media informed and up to date creates a partnership amongst the two parties. They feel there is a partnership between the two and when a crisis occurs the media can work along with a company to help it recover opposed to working against it.
    Kyle Smith

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