How to Communicate with the Media in Times of Crisis

The initial outbreak of a crisis is a daunting time.

It’s easy to fall victim to blind panic and irrational behaviour when these stressful circumstances occur.However, there are many policies and practices you and your business can put in place to make responding to a crisis a much easier task. In order to help, we have put together the beginnings of a crisis plan, with our top tips of what steps to take at the initial outbreak for you to follow and build upon.

Initial priorities:
  • Quickly gather and disseminate information to the media.
  • Analyse coverage and provide council.
  • Media calls will cease.

Information should be distributed via your website, social media and in some cases face to face briefings.

The First 30 Minutes:

Release statement 1:

If a public facing issue, a statement from the company’s MD or CEO must be released as soon as possible. This should be pre-prepared in times of crisis.

Social media:

All social media should reflect/acknowledge the current crisis. All marketing on hold and all calls diverted to voice mail which informs that a serious incident has occurred.

Release statement 2:

A second pre-written statement should be released confirming the accident has taken place including some more detailed information than statement 1.

Incident report form/ fact sheet:

This should be completed, providing details of the incident. Not to be used for general release – for internal use only.

Emergency news conference

The initial News Conference will take place in pre-determined location within the first three hours of an accident/incident occurring.

It may be necessary to conduct subsequent news conferences at the accident site or the country where the accident has occurred.

Release info timeline

Here is an approximate guide to how your crisis communication information timeline would look:

Statement 1 - Released with message posted on social media and website to confirm the incident has happened.

News release 1 - Acknowledging statement 1 confirming awareness of incident

Statement 2 - Release holding statement confirming incident takes place and its basic detail

CEO video briefing - showing concern and desire to help those effected

Internal staff briefing

CEO News briefing - Within 2 hours of incident

News release 4 - 2 hours after incident

News release 5 - 4 hours after incident

News conference - 3-4 hours after incident

CEO to travel to incident site if possible

Regular news releases to follow as more information becomes available

Social media templates

Immediate steps to take:

  • Activate social media ‘Dark Tab’
    • Remove/hide any competitions or offers
    • Pin latest update to the top of all social media
    • Change cover photo/profile picture

Be aware that it is not possible to respond to all questioning on social media. Templates of social media responses should be drawn up for the purpose of Direct Message responses and social media updates.

Messaging Example:


  • We are doing all we can to look after those who have been affected by this tragic accident
  • We will work tirelessly with the investigating authorities to establish exactly what happened and learn whatever lessons we can from this terrible event
  • We will continue to care for all those affected by this accident, now and in the future


  • We are devastated by what has happened and will ensure that we look after all those who have been affected
  • We know that many of us have lost friends. We must do all we can to help one another come to terms with this terrible loss
  • We are committed to establishing what has happened, learning any lessons we can and ensuring we continue to have the highest safety standards.

We hope this guide gives you an insight into a media crisis plan. For more information on how we can support your business in times of crisis visit our Crisis and Issues Management page or feel free to contact us at