Risking a News Magazine Interview

One of the best challenges facing any public relations professional is dealing with a bad situation that has attracted the interest of a TV “news journal. ” The King of that Hill, of course , is “60 Minutes” although I understand there are comparably popular shows international. Few of us like hearing from the staff of “20/20” both. Sure, both shows have positive feature stories also, but I believe most Crisis Managers associate the name “Mike Wallace” with the word “interrogation. ”

That said, are there “Honduras noticias news” situations when it’s worth voluntarily risking an physical appearance on such a show? When even the best media exercising is often not enough to keep the piranhas at bay? I request my readers to submit stories of their experiences with these kinds of programs, including lessons learned. The following is a case history of your time when I not only voluntarily cooperated — *I* was the interview subject, and survived. It was a very personal sort of crisis management and, hence, I’m temporarily switching into a first-person, versus third-person narrative.

[Initial Situation]

The child of a wealthy West Coast family, a college freshman, seemed to be kidnapped by persons unknown. There had been a high-figure ransom demand. The father’s corporate attorneys asked me which keeps the media at bay if and when the news leaked, because it inevitably would.

[Pre-Rescue Crisis Management]

We had no idea in the event the son, Ryan, was going to be found alive or not. Our initial work included:

* Meeting with the family to ascertain their particular wishes. They were sophisticated enough to understand the need to say anything, once the news was out, but very much wanted to stay away from direct media contact by family members. Solution: I grew to be the spokesperson, a “friend of the family. ”

3. Drafting statements ready for use during the transition period while Ryan’s status was unknown, and others for when he appeared to be found alive… or injured… or dead.

* Informing the family and a hired security firm how to avoid snooping journalists [Editor’s Note: If you’d like to read more about that topic inside a future issue, let me know].

* Participating in at-least-daily seminar calls involving Ryan’s mother and/or father, attorneys in addition to law enforcement reps.

[The Rescue! ]

Fortunately, particularly for Ryan and his family, secrecy was maintained until — simply by dint of much clever law enforcement work and even mobile phone deception by Ryan’s mother, who lulled the kidnappers in to a sense of false confidence — Ryan was saved in a police raid and his kidnappers captured after a two-week ordeal which included:

* Being shut in a coffin-like container for the first several days after he was abducted.
5. Sexual molestation.
* Threats of death.

News in the raid and details of the kidnapping ordeal leaked for the press and I appeared at a police-managed press conference offering messages on behalf of the family. Within a day, a prominent TV SET tabloid news magazine contacted me, said they were going to do a “re-enactment” of the kidnapping as their feature coverage, plus asked if Ryan or another family member would take part in job interview. Concurrently, an attorney for the kidnappers attempted a nasty strategy — he held a news conference in which he inferred that Ryan had been part of his own kidnapping, as “proved” by the fact that, after being released from the box, he had simply been handcuffed and could have walked away from the privately owned home (not that far from his own! ) where he was being kept captive.

[Re-directing the News]

I achieved with the family and attorneys and told them that, once we didn’t respond to the tabloid show, they could portray Jones as culpable to some degree — which was not only damaging privately, but could actually influence a jury pool, which usually no doubt was the intent of the kidnappers’ attorney. By now, I must say i FELT like a “friend of the family” and was amazingly relieved that Ryan was safe physically, although however need counseling for some time thereafter.

I offered to narrate the particular re-enactment for the show, providing details we had not reviewed at the first news conference but which would not misjudgment the legal case. We would insist on the right to edit whatever percentage of my interview was chosen for use, although there remained an important risk that other parts of the story could make my meeting look bad. They agreed (and I swallowed hard).