Speech to Staff After a Media Scandal
When it comes to media scandals, you have to act quickly. You must talk to your employees as soon as possible after a negative story has hit the press, or the online media - assuming you weren’t able to speak to them before the story broke.
There are two very good reasons for talking to your employees as quickly as possible; firstly, your employees are bound to have heard the story and, as the saying goes, nature abhors a vacuum. Unless you explain the situation, your employees will come to their own conclusions, which are invariably negative. Secondly, you need to ensure that all your employees know the ‘company line’ on the scandal and don’t say anything that could be potentially damaging.
Here is a template for a suitable speech to make to your employees after a media scandal.
1. Introduction and Make It SnappyYou mustn’t hang about. While you will need to gather your thoughts and make the right speech, you must speak to your employees as soon as possible after the story breaks. Be open and honest as far as possible and make sure that your employees are well briefed to deal with any fall out.
- Gather your staff as quickly as possible
- Acknowledge the scandal – however awkward you feel
- Be positive
Example: Thank you all for coming together at such short notice but I’m sure you already appreciate why we need to discuss the current situation. For those of you that are not aware, there is a photo of our managing director on the front of most of this morning’s newspapers following the discovery of a very high profile affair back in the 1990s. As you will realise, this all happened a long time ago, but in the 24-hour media age we now live in, a story can be big for a while and then it burns out, so we must deal with this appropriately.
2. Be Honest and PracticalBy taking control of the situation, you will stop the media scandal from getting out of control. The fact is that the story will soon be about someone else and the issue will pass, so it’s all about managing the situation so that it does not become a bigger issue than necessary.
- Explain the details of the story where necessary
- Explain the importance of the situation
- Don’t let gossip bloom
Example: It has come to light that our MD was involved with a famous person a number of years ago, long before he met and married his wife and this celebrity is using the story to gain publicity for their autobiography. I have no doubt that the story will soon blow over, so in the meantime I would appreciate it if you carried on with your work in your usual professional manner.
3. Be Clear About the Company LineWhatever the media scandal, you can be sure that, for perhaps a couple of hours or even a few days, there will be paparazzi or reporters hanging around. The bigger the scandal, the more this will affect you and your business, but even the smallest stories can create a bit of a buzz now that there are 24-hour news channels to fill. You need to make sure that your people know what to say if they are pushed for a comment as this will maintain control and let the story pass quickly. A juicy comment will only fuel the fire! This way, you can get back to normal as soon as possible.
- Ask your team to be respectful
- Tell your employees what to say if questioned
- Answer any questions
Example: I would really appreciate your cooperation in not feeding the press with any gossip on this matter. I hope that the story will pass within a couple of days, at the most, so in the meantime, please do not make any unsolicited comments to the reporters. The company line on this matter is that this happened a long time ago and is no big deal. That may not sound like an answer, but it will help not to fuel the story, so please only say this is pushed. If you have any other questions, please do ask them now and I will do my best to answer you honestly.