Handling a Media Crisis

Getting to the top of the company ladder is an accomplishment for any woman – but it also makes you a potential target when making unpopular decisions. Just ask Vivian Schiller, the first female CEO of NPR. She’s taking some serious heat for the firing of longtime NPR reporter Juan Williams. Some cried censorship, while others called for a halt of all public funds and grants going to the media powerhouse.

PINK sat down with Schiller the day after the controversial announcement for an exclusive interview.

How to manage the crisis?

“The one thing you don’t want to think about until it happens is a crisis,” says Meg Reggie, principal of MRPR and former vice president of consumer brands at Edelman Atlanta. “The challenge is getting through the crisis with minimal damage to your image and to public opinion.” Reggie recommends speaking first, reacting as a person rather than a company, having employees’ support and monitoring media coverage to fend off any rumors or false statements.

The biggest challenge is to react appropriately and quickly, says James Lukaszewski. In “Seven Dimensions of Crisis Communication Management,” he warns, “it’s the non-action and the resulting spin that cause embarrassment, humiliation, prolonged visibility, and unnecessary litigation.”

Some CEOs look to one another for confidence and support when faced with tough decisions. These situations become more prevalent during tough economic times, when downsizing and layoffs are more common, according to the New York Times.

PINK Profile: Amidst the chaos, Vivian Schiller sits down with PINK to discuss leadership, life balance and how she became the most powerful person at NPR.

By Caroline Cox

“’We are given one life and the decision is ours whether to wait for circumstances to make up our mind, or whether to act.” Anonymous

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