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Kim Burns
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kburns@wirestaurant.org

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Dealing with the News Media During a Crisis Situation
Tips for Restaurants

Hopefully, you won’t ever have to put these tips into practice, but it’s good to be prepared in case you are ever in a crisis situation where your restaurant is getting some negative media attention.

  • Be as informed as possible.
  • Gather the facts and disseminate information from one central information center.
  • Speak with one voice consistently with a designated spokesperson whom you select. Make sure that person is trained and well-informed.
  • Be accessible to the media.
  • Tell your story quickly, openly and honestly.
  • When you don’t know the answer to a media question, say, “I don’t know.”
  • If you can’t discuss something, explain why.
  • Avoid the phrase, “no comment.”
  • Don’t panic in front of the media.
  • Bring in professional help when necessary.
  • Express sympathy. When the crisis has resulted in a negative result for someone, first express your sympathy and concern for the victims and their families.
  • Don’t blame anyone for anything.
  • Don’t speak off the record. If you don’t want to be quoted on a particular subject, don’t say anything about it.
  • Don’t make ad-lib comments. They may be reported out of context.
  • Be very careful about putting things in writing – anywhere whether it’s an email, comment on social media, etc.
  • You may want to consider a written statement that is carefully worded and well thought through. Then stick to this statement and its main points in every interview or conversation that you may have regarding the situation.
  • Emphasize the good record or history of your establishment. If precautions were taken to avoid the crisis, point them out.
  • If something wasn’t handled in the best way possible, admit this and explain how you are making sure it won’t happen again.
  • Don’t repeat negative questions or misleading words. If you repeat them in your response, they may be attributed to you.
  • Correct inaccuracies. If incorrect information has appeared in the news media, be sure that you point it out.
  • Don’t argue with a reporter, even when provoked. You will invariably end up making yourself look bad in print.
  • Let the reporter see you’re a good person in some not so good circumstances.
  • Try not to take it personally. The reporter is just trying to do their job.
  • You’ll get through it. It rarely is as bad as it seems in the heat of the moment. These things usually blow over in a very short period of time.

WRA can help you through a crisis. Just call the WRA Hotline Team 608-270-9950

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Wisconsin Restaurant Association • 2801 Fish Hatchery Rd. • Madison, WI 53713 • Tel: 608.270.9950 • Toll Free: 800.589.3211 • FAX: 608.270.9960