Asked if Paula Broadwell or Jill Kelley could benefit from reading his new book, Brad Phillips said yes, sort of. “There’s an entire section about managing a media crisis,” he told FishbowlDC. But he said he had broader things in mind as opposed to just sex scandals.
After three years, Phillips, editor of the “MrMediaTraining” blog, has finished his first book: The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview.
He said the number 101 just sounded more compelling than 95. “It was easy to come up with a few more lessons to meet that number, since some ideas couldn’t be contained in just two pages,” he said.
Phillips calls his book a “Bible” so we put him to the test…
With Politico‘s David Chalian in mind, we proposed the following scenario to Phillips: A reporter is caught on a hot mic disparaging a presidential candidate as a racist. Media reporters want to know how the editor of the publication is going to handle the situation. What kind of questions can he or she expect and how should the person prepare to address them?
At the time, Chalian was working for Yahoo! News.
“The editor should expect two basic questions,” Phillips said. “Are those comments acceptable to you, and if not, what do you plan to do about them?”
He said “one of the basic rules of crisis management” is getting ahead of outside media and volunteering public comment before being asked, “ideally within an hour” of a story breaking.
“But just because you issue a quick response doesn’t mean you have to say everything” he said. “For example, the editor doesn’t have to discuss every internal conversation they plan on having (or have had) about the hot mic moment.” Phillips offers this as a boiler plate statement an editor might use:
“The reporter’s statement is not consistent with our news organization’s mission of providing candidates with fair coverage, and we take these types of incidents seriously. I’d like to apologize to the candidate for that unfair remark—it shouldn’t have happened—and we will discuss this situation with all of our reporters and editors to prevent it from happening again. I will also discuss this incident with the reporter and take any actions we deem necessary to ensure the fairness of our reporting, but I’ll withhold further comment about that until I’ve had an opportunity to speak with the reporter at greater length.”
In addition a statement, Phillips says a separate public apology should be issued from the reporter. And as it turns out, this is almost exactly how Chalian’s episode played out. Unfortunately for him, he was still fired.
Phillips’ paperback book is scheduled for official release on Jan. 8 and will also be available as an e-book.