Media: It's their job to ask tough questions

Barbara S. Reynolds
Crisis Communication Expert
Office of Communication
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

From an organizational perspective, when you're dealing with the media, it's very important ahead of time that people understand the roles of media and they will start out in a crisis situation with their public safety hats on and they will do what's necessary to get factual information out but it's their job and we have to recognize that they're going to come back and ask us the tough questions, they're going to be probing, they are going to be looking for conflict, for inconsistencies in the way we're responding to that crisis. It's the nature of the work that they do, and we have to accept that. I find sometimes that an organization wants to work with the media up to a certain point when they believe that they're getting what they want and then the moment they feel they no longer need the media, they want to dismiss them, they want to put them back in the toy box, and it doesn't work that way. The fact is, the media is going to be with you before, during and after that crisis, and good communication planning would adjust for that.