Thursday, August 14, 2008, 11:13 AM

Media Training: If there's only one thing ...

Our work this month with a high-profile client reinforces a valuable lesson every organization should remember about crisis communications: expect the unexpected. Here’s why:

Last week, in fewer than 24 hours, our client Obsidian Realty went from being an unknown realty firm to the front page of newspapers across in the United States. National media had been covering the international manhunt for the fugitive from Boston who had allegedly kidnapped his daughter. Obsidian’s staff, after recognizing the man on national television as a client looking to buy a house, contacted law enforcement who, with Obsidian’s help, set up the elaborate sting that brought him into custody (and returned the daughter safely to her mother).

Within hours, national news outlets descended on Baltimore demanding access to Obsidian’s staff, particularly the managing partner. TV cameras were at her door, reporters were on her phone. Despite being a successful realtor, our client was wholly unprepared to face the media. Recognizing the need to stage an immediate press conference, Womble Carlyle gave the client a crash course on media training: What to do, what to say, how to say it, when to say it, what to wear, where to stand.

If there’s only one thing you can do to prepare for the unexpected, it is to undergo media training. When the unexpected happens, and the media beast needs to be fed, having the confidence and ability to communicate effectively in front of the press is priceless.

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