Magazine article Communication World

Virgil Scudder Tackles Crisis Tactics

Magazine article Communication World

Virgil Scudder Tackles Crisis Tactics

Article excerpt

As communicators, we all understand the importance of perception. For most people, the line between perception and reality is quite thin. And in the throes of a crisis, effective communication is crucial to a favorable public perception. Actions taken by a communicator during the first moments of a crisis can affect perceptions of an individual or company well after the crisis is resolved.

During the IABC international conference, to be held July 8-11, 1997, at the Century Plaza Hotel and Tower in Los Angeles, participants interested in the effect their words can have on others will have ample opportunity to have their questions and concerns addressed.

In his three-hour seminar, international media trainer, Virgil Scudder, of New York City, will show participants how to handle communication with the media during a crisis - especially during the first few hours, which can be the most critical.

"The most important thing is the way you react," said Scudder. "Your actions in the first few minutes and hours will determine how the coverage of the client and the crisis goes and whether you are perceived as good guys who had an accident or bad guys."

During his seminar, titled "No Place to Hide," Scudder will explore the strategic aspects of communicating as well as some basic "dos and don'ts." Scudder stresses the idea of not hiding behind words, but being proactive during a media interview about a crisis.

Among the topics he will discuss are: Who speaks and says what during a crisis, how to be prepared for anything and how to control the interview process.

"Before the crisis, it is important to build good will and good relations on a daily basis," said Scudder. "The way you are treated in a crisis, by the media and the public, will be determined in part by what they think of you at the beginning of the crisis situation."

Scudder's media training expertise enables his clients to clearly communicate their messages during a crisis. Companies experiencing crises need to know how to communicate precisely to present an accurate perception to the public.

"What is said determines what is perceived, and people base actions on perceptions," Scudder said. "If what is said is not what is intended, people will not gain a proper perception of what the companies in crisis are dealing with."

Having been on both sides of the journalism table, Scudder is well acquainted with what governs the public's perception of a crisis. Scudder's experience with the media runs the gamut from a 20-year television and radio career to his position as senior vice president at two major public relations corporations, Carl Byoir & Associates and Hill & Knowlton. He also was president of MediaCom, a leading communication training company. He now has his own international media training and crisis communication firm. …

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