Managing Bad News

speaker-megafoon-1427023If some tragedy strikes your church, business, or organization, who will handle the news media’s request for comments?


But what if you are unable to respond? Who will? What will they say?

Have you given it any thought? Most people have not.

We haven’t thought about it because we don’t like to think that bad things can happen to us. Some say even pondering those ideas is a sign of weakness. So, we ignore that possibility.

Another reason we haven’t given it much thought is because we aren’t aware of how a poor response can effect our business.

Sorry to say, but our world is filled with lawyers waiting to analyze every word and action, hoping to reap huge financial benefits at your expense. Even though it grates on an honest man to do so, you must carefully measure your words when your organization is going though a difficult situation.

If a person is injured in a church sponsored activity, most pastors would love to publicly state how sorry they are, how they pledge every resource to speeding that person’s recovery, and how they will do all they can to fix what caused the problem. But if that pastor isn’t careful, a lawyer will find in his statement an admission of guilt and neglect that will bring even more anguish to an already emotionally overloaded situation.

Every organization should prepare a planned statement that, in a time of crisis, will be release to the media on their behalf. This document should be reviewed and approved by your attorney so that it expresses, in a generic way, the feelings of the organization, but does not open a door that an opposing attorney might get his foot in.

Depending upon the event, it may be far better that the attorney read the statement or release it to the various news outlets. This is especially troubling to churches who want their communities to know that their love is genuine, but, unfortunately, our litigious society has forced us protect ourselves even when we would most like to show our compassion.

At your next board or officers meeting, I’d suggest you start the discussion of how your organization will handle this. It may take a few meetings before some get on board, so don’t get discouraged. Keep with it. When tragedy strikes, everyone will be glad you did.

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