You hope you never see that "specializes in bad news" TV reporter at your door. But you could. And then you need this advice.
• Speak with one voice. One person in the clinic should act as the funnel or source for information. All inquiries, requests for information and media comments should be handled by the person who's most comfortable and capable in the role of clinic spokesperson. While this person is often the chief veterinarian, consider empowering someone else in the clinic as a backup.
• Understand the media's potential role in your crisis. Media representatives want to know three things: What happened? Why did it happen? And what are you going to do to make sure that it never happens again?
• Resist combative instincts. You can't fight the media forever. And the more you fight, the worse it'll get. You'll achieve more favorable results with honesty and candor than with denial. And be sure to avoid quips or off-the-cuff remarks. They'll surely be the part of your interview that's used.
Rebecca Hart, accredited public relations professional, is a consultant and the co-founder of thevetzone.com, a Web site offering tools and information for the veterinary profession.