Responding to the news media and public during a family crisis is a daunting task. FamilySpokesperson.org has been developed to help provide insights and instructions, as well as tips and tools, especially for those who have no prior experience working with the news media.
The mission of FamilySpokesperson.org is to help empower individuals with simple tools and training to effectively work with, represent and protect the best interests of families who become the subject of public and media attention. This resource has been developed with input from both national crisis communications experts and families who have endured challenging situations in the public eye.
It is important to note no two crises or families are the same and as such each requires a solution tailored to their unique circumstances. Most importantly, the interests and needs of the family should be the No.1 consideration regardless of the pressure or demands of outside sources, especially the media.
If you are in the middle of a crisis and don’t have time to review the content of this site, the following are immediate steps you should take:
Check Social Media:
Access your (and applicable family members) social media accounts and take down any images, files, comments and other content that you do not want to appear in media coverage or social media posts. This generally is the first place the news media and online trolls go to get images and other information. Taking this action is especially important in protecting the privacy of minors and other family members and friends.
Create a Safe Haven:
Conduct media interviews and press conferences away from the family’s primary residence (at a park, a friend’s home or even on a street corner). Avoid answering the door or assign a trusted individual to serve as a gatekeeper to respond to visits and inquiries from media, neighbors and other parties. It is essential for the family to have the appropriate space to process the situation, be together and attend to the work at hand.
Establish a Media Protocol/Communication Methods:
While this site will provide greater detail on how to do this, the simplest approach is to
Assign one individual to serve as a Media Point Person and work as an intermediary taking requests and managing all media inquiries (but not serving as a spokesperson), 2) Communicate the Media Protocol to all appropriate family members and friends, 3) Determine the best method for communicating information (press conference, interviews, statements, social media posts, etc.), 3) Communicate effectively by being consistent with how you release information and work with various media.
And, most importantly: It’s Okay to Say “No.”
In many circumstances the demands and requests of the media outweigh the capacity of family members. The needs of the family should always come first. This requires the ability to say “no” and remain firm. Don’t give into the pressure unless there is a very specific purpose (click here for some considerations) and then be deliberate. The media are very competitive and unfortunately the need to get the story sometimes overshadows the health and welfare of individuals and families. Be sure to constantly assess the family’s needs and emotional and physical wellbeing with the time requirements, demands and the purpose of participating in media interviews and public
FamilySpokesperson.org has been created by a group that has managed and consulted on dozens of family crises from cases that are large and national in scope to others that are small and rural in nature. The mission of FamilySpokesperson.org is to help empower individuals with simple tools and training to effectively work with, represent and protect the best interests of families who become the subject of public and media attention.
FamilySpokesperson.org is unable to assist, consult or provide advice outside of what is included on this website. If you are seeking additional help or insights, we recommend connecting with a public relations or public affairs professional, who has crisis and issue management experience, in your area. The following is a link hyperlink to some possible organizations that might be able to help.
While we are unable to provide assistance, we would welcome your feedback. Please email hyperlink any thoughts, ways in which FamilySpokesperson.org could be improved, lessons learned and how you benefited from using this resource.