Edward Burkhardt wasn’t ready to face the media.
See for yourself how poorly the CEO and Chairman of Montreal, Maine & Atlantic Railway did responding to the disaster in Lac-Megantic involving his railway.
Are you ready to face the media?
“People are always putting words in my mouth.”
These words come out of Burkhardt’s mouth at the 3:06 mark of this scrum. It’s not as if he hadn’t spoken enough words in the previous three minutes. But his responses are rambling
This scrum captured by the Montreal Gazette shows us what goes on behind typical media coverage. In this case, it is a textbook example of poor media relations particularly in the midst of a major crisis. Clearly, Burkhardt had no media relations training nor did he seek any help once the accident occurred. He thought he could wing it. As a result, he only made a terrible situation much more difficult than necessary.
I recently teamed up with Sue Johnston of It’s Understood Communication, a former journalist and oral communications expert, to deliver a one day media relations workshop for a nonprofit. We showed this video as a example of a worst case scenario before we shared how to confidently deal with the media to get your story and messages out.
Many organizations are afraid of the media. They fear having words put in their mouth or falling prey to a gotcha moment. Rarely is that fear justified. The media has a job to do. The more you know about their job and how to respond with integrity, the better you are able to help them. That’s your job. Having the confidence to do your job is necessary to get the best possible outcome for your organization whether it’s an everyday interview or in the midst of an extraordinary crisis.
Are you ready?
Learn from Burkhardt’s scrum
If Burkhardt’s scrum is a textbook example of what not to do, what should you do?
While I could provide advice based upon my experience, in this case I think it’s best to learn from media relations expert Allan Bonner. In this video, Bonner uses the Burkhardt example to give us all a lesson in “How Not To Handle A Crisis.”