As last week’s West Virginia coal mine explosion still touches our hearts, the coal boss Don Blankenship’s poor response to the disaster undoubtedly irritates the public. Blankenship’s interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer is so unprepared, unorganized and unskilled that makes himself in deep water.
People showed their disagreement and confrontation.
The Linhard PR blog said Blankenship’s interview fully exposed his lack of sensitivity, unwillingness to address the obvious, and unpersuasive defense. While it’s important for crisis responders not to lose control of their emotions, Blankenship’s first words should have acknowledged the victims and expressed sympathy for the dead and concern for the miners still trapped. What Blankenship should have told Sawyer is that, at that moment, Massey is solely focused on the situation at hand and the needs of the victims’ families. Compounding the problems Blankenship created for himself is his poor track record of interacting with media.
TJ Walker speaks about Don Blankenship’s relationship with the media is not the best role model. The CEO, especially in times of crisis, is the most important person for the corporate. But he showed no sympathy about the victims. When the company is facing a crisis, there is no need to destroy your own reputation, which depends on your reaction afterward. “You got to take the attitude of being accessible to the media; you got to take the attitude of having sympathy for anyone who has died.”
The explosion, involved 25 Massey employees dad and 4 missing, is a tragedy of enormous proportions. At this time, we should put our hearts on the families, friends, colleagues and neighbors of the miners. We can image the victims are suffering. However, the crisis response person showed no sympathy and blamed on something unrelated. His ugly face will be uncovered in the harsh glare of the national media spotlight when the facts about what happened are unknown.
What’s worse, he performed bad relationship with the media. He didn’t actively cooperate with the media, but refused to answer the questions directly and frankly. According to ABC News, Blankenship said “If you’re going to start taking pictures of me, you’re liable to get shot” in an interview in 2008, and got physical with the reporter. His arrogant attitude and unfriendliness with media will definitely affect the result of the crisis and ruin the rest of his career.
What should Blankenship notice？
To show the active attitude and preserve reputation, he should well prepare the content delivered in every interview, build and maintain sound relationship with the media.
Setting an agenda for your answers is very important when you hold a press or take an interview. Listing the specific key points will help you better deal with the unpredicted situations and communicate with the media and the public.
Relationship with the media plays an important role in the crisis communication process. Media is the medium between the company and the public. What the media reports would more or less influence people’s acknowledgement about the incident and form the social pressure. A sound media relationship can help the company convey their information and make first reaction more effectively, and communicate more smoothly.