Is Your Staff Online Media Trained?

online-media-trainingWe’ve discussed why your entire team needs to be prepared and trained to handle the media in a crisis, even if only on a basic level. Though most people, when referring to media training, naturally think traditional media. But what about the Tweets that a reporter might “innocently” tweet out to your receptionist? What if a member of your staff receives a non-threatening note on Facebook or Google+ regarding a certain issue your brand is currently facing, and doesn’t realize that 1) it’s from a reporter and 2) answering, even with the best intentions, might further harm the organization?

These high-risk scenarios are not uncommon in today’s social media and real-time world. Many reporters are using social media to seek out their stories, angles and quotes, and the fact that each member of your staff is most likely active on social in one form or another, makes them a likely target for a baiting reporter. Not to mention that we’re all so used to interacting with strangers on social media that without the proper training it’s quite possible that, not only will your targeted staff member not question if the tweet they’re answering is from a reporter, but it is highly likely that they are completely unaware of the damage that answering such “innocent” tweets may have on your company. Unless, of course, you’ve armed them with knowledge and online media training.

What should each one of your staff members be armed with?

  • An understanding of what their role is within a crisis and issue, what sorts of questions they’re permitted to answer and where they can go for information and guidance when unsure.
  • Quick and dirty holding statements that will give them the confidence to answer incoming inquiries correctly and assertively, no matter what time of day or night (remember: social media is 24/7/365)
  • Training. This is not just something that you can tell everyone in a staff meeting and then send them on their way. Proper training and practice drills are the only way to build their internal alerts, their confidence and a profound understanding of everything involved.

Your job (or rather your media trainer’s job) is to make sure that nobody on your team underestimates the power of a tweet or post, and that everybody can confidently and quickly analyze which types of incoming inquiries are for them to answer, and where to send the ones that are not.

Is your staff online media trained?

Melissa Agnes is an international crisis management keynote speaker and consultant. President of the crisis management firm Agnes + Day, Melissa has developed a worldwide reputation for crisis management, planning and training by helping global brands and government agencies prevent and manage a wide range of issues and crises. She is also the editor of The Crisis Intelligence Blog and host of The Crisis Intelligence Podcast.

3 Comments. Leave new

1000% agree with you Melissa. Media training or at least some awareness training is even more important than ever when anyone can report a crisis anyway anytime. I strongly advocate the Coast Guard approach of Maximum Disclosure, Minimum Delay where the font-line is expected to speak about their job. They are trained. At the very least have guidelines, conduct "lunch'nlearn" sessions where all key customer-facing employees learn about their roles and responsibilities in crisis situations. Run some fun scenarios over a brown bag lunch.


Spot on Melissa! So many businesses believe that their social networking sites can be run by casual staff or interns without the proper training! They don't realise that innocent comments can lead to a whole host of issues if they are not fully aware of what's happening in their organisation. Great post, thanks for sharing this.


My pleasure, Celina! And you're very right. It's part of the reason why we see so many rogue tweets and such. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with me!



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