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Media training for a crisis #censusfail

After a disastrous night of online frustration for Australians, the much-hyped National Australian Census campaign is now in damage control. Yet, I had to laugh this morning after hearing radio adverts thanking the Australian public on sitting down and completing the online form.

I can bet that the ABS is in meltdown mode this morning lining up spokespeople- political and industry experts- defending it’s actions on shutting down the site. So what kind of media risk mitigation strategy did the ABS have in place? Obviously nothing. The site was taken offline around 7:30pm, but the ABS was still telling people to log in, via Twitter, as late as 9:54pm.

Planning for the worst-case scenario, particularly in the online environment is critical. Holding statements need to be drafted, screen shots with clear communication made available (no one wants to see, oops this page is currently unavailable) and most importantly, your key spokesperson needs to be prepared to make a genuine and sincere apology.

In one of the first of many interviews today, David Kalisch, the chief statistician with the Bureau of Statistics told ABC radio, in a very robotic fashion, the series of events that led to the site being shut down. Yes, the cause was explained. Yes, reassurance was offered regarding the privacy details of those 2 million who were able to submit their forms. Yet the simplest of actions is still missing– a genuine and sincere apology.

When a product launch over promises and under delivers, the public backlash can be brutal. With social media now trending, #censusfail the much-anticipated campaign is now a disaster and making world headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Take a listen to David’s radio interview on ABC Radio and tell us what you think.

http://www.abc.net.au/newsradio/content/s4515560.htm

Media training: How to structure a press release that will stand out from the rest

We often hear from clients about their brilliant, show-stopping press releases yet they are baffled when they get no bites from busy journalists. Try these helpful hints when structuring your next press release.

  1. Know what angle you are going to take
    Make sure in your pre-writing thinking you consider the angle of the story. Is the news interesting? Will anyone outside of your organisation care? Make sure you keep to the facts; what does your product, service or event have to offer readers.
  2. Know what outcome you want
    Create interest in the headline and be direct. Make sure your release has a purpose. Keep in mind that your goal is to make journalists want to pick up the phone or send an email to find out more.
  3. Make sure nothing is missing
    Is your news timely? Or has it passed its use-by-date? With online news sites giving readers up-to-the-minute news updates your release needs to be factual and informative. Make sure you don’t leave out useful information making your release newsworthy.
  4. Include a quote
    Keep in mind the purpose of a press release – you’ve got news to share and a strong, descriptive quote will capture the attention of journalists. A quote also provides the journalist with name of your spokesperson and who they could potentially interview.

Lastly, make sure you do more than just email your press release to media contacts. Use your website to promote your news, preferably with a link on your home page. Not only are you adding fresh content to your site, search engines will love it.