“Hello. This is Sally Smith, I’m a reporter at the Local Times. I just spoke with the family member of one of your residents and I had a few questions about an incident that happened at your facility earlier this week.”
If you’re like most skilled nursing leaders, receiving a call like this is something you dread. And with good reason – in any given day, skilled nursing executives juggle a heavy workload to ensure that each and every resident in their facility receives quality care. Receiving a call from a reporter with probing questions can at best seem disruptive, and at worst may leave you feeling flustered, under attack or unsure of yourself.
At Trifecta Public Strategies, one of the things we consistently remind our clients is that they have control over how they engage with media. In fact, in each of our media training sessions we share our ‘Interviewees Bill of Rights,” which outlines proactive steps that can be taken prior to and during interviews to maintain control. But let’s start at the beginning – what can you do to retain control when you receive an unsolicited media inquiry? It’s as easy as being polite and following six simple steps:
1. Request the reporter’s name, phone number and email address. Double-check the spelling of the name and email address, as well as the digits of their phone number.
2. Verify the name of the outlet the reporter is calling from to determine if this is a print, TV, radio or online media inquiry.
3. Ask for the reporter’s deadline.
4. Ask the reporter to share with you what they are calling about in an effort to determine the nature of the call. Ideally, ask if they can share their questions. Please note – it is possible that a reporter won’t share questions with you. The most important thing is to ask. Also important is that you not respond to the questions or get talked into providing a statement.
5. Share that your organization will follow-up as soon as possible.
6. Thank the reporter for the opportunity to provide a comment.
And that’s it! No need to say more. No need to answer questions on the spot. If you follow these six steps, you are taking control of the conversation. By securing this basic information you have been responsible, reasonable and professional.
Trifecta Public Strategies has managed media relations surrounding more than 1,200 critical events in the skilled nursing industry, as well as crisis situations ranging from employee deaths to data security breaches. We’d love to learn to learn more about your organization and how we may be able to help your staff become advocates for your business.[Note: Trifecta Public Strategies content is for informational use only and is not intended to serve as legal, clinical, or compliance counsel.]