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How to create a guide for responding to the media

Prepare your agency for when it becomes the story or a major part the story

Can you imagine a scenario where an ambulance shows up on a scene without the needed medical supplies? How about the nightmare scenario where an intoxicated crew member crashes the ambulance injuring bystanders, or of a member of management being accused of felony and escorted out of your station in handcuffs?

What would media say? What would you tell them?

As first responders, we plan ahead for every conceivable emergency or disaster. So why do most agencies fail to plan for media-related emergencies?

From my years working as a Public Information Officer (PIO) for one of the largest ambulance providers in the Southwest, I know there are lots of training courses on how to keep media updated during a major incident by following the Incident Command System. Yet there are almost no classes for company leaders or spokespeople on what to do when the EMS agency itself becomes the story or a major part the story.

My conference session, the Emergency Media Playbook, focuses on how to create a departmental guide for responding to nearly every type of media inquiry. Sample scenarios and media responses are shared and dissected, providing attendees a framework to design a personalized emergency media playbook for their agency.

We also spend time explaining how to dilute or inoculate an agency from negative stories by first building up a goodwill bank of positive news impressions.

Josh Weiss served as the national Director of Public Relations for Rural/Metro Corporation, a leading national provider of private ambulance and fire protection services, and as Director of Communications and Public Affairs for American Traffic Solutions, a national leader in traffic safety cameras. In the past 15 years, Josh has worked with hundreds of external and internal clients including public and private companies in the healthcare and technology industries, government municipalities, police and fire Departments, and community organizations to build positive brands and manage reputations. He now operates 10 to 1 Public Relations.