Mass Media Insider: Imus Firing by CBS and MSNBC Great Example of How to Handle PR Management Crisis Situation

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CBS and MSNBC's handling of the Don Imus firing over racial remarks is a text book case of how to handle a PR Crisis Management situation. Any size businesses can look at what did, how they did it, what they said and learn from their example. Although not everyone may agree with the outcome, and some may say the decision was based on something other than the remarks, one media insider says they did a great job.

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Larry Emsweller is available to comment on this landmark mass media firestorm with Don Imus and MSNBC and CBS.

Larry Emsweller, a 35-year veteran mass media insider and business consultant, says although many feels as if the Don Imus firing was excessive, CBS and MSNBC handled the crisis quickly and decisively in exactly the manner good PR crisis management requires.

The feeding frenzy over racist remarks Imus made on his radio broadcast about the Rutgers women's basketball team ended Thursday, April 12, 2007, with the announcement that CBS would cancel the Shock Jock's radio show.

Emsweller, who has been in the boardrooms of many media corporate giants, says small businesses can look at the way CBS and MSNBC handled this situation and learn from it. "They had a very difficult issue," Emsweller said. "They responded and acknowledged the problem. There was limited commentary, when they could have joined the feeding frenzy or taken 'what do you expect from a shock jock?' approach. The networks said they were considering the matter carefully. Both CBS and MSNBC let it play out for a couple of days and then made their decision."

Les Moonves, CBS President and CEO said nothing about Al Sharpton or Jessie Jackson, who threatened a rally on Saturday, April 14 th, if CBS did not remove Imus. Jackson and Sharpton said they would hold the rally to try to encourage other sponsors to leave the program, according to Emsweller. Moonves admitted the language and the impact "it has had on our young people, particularly young women of color weighed heavy on their consideration as they made their decision." CBS was not critical of the media feeding frenzy that kept driving the controversy.

Emsweller continued by saying, "Granted the decision was made after sponsors started pulling out, so the decision may have been made for economic reasons more than ethical ones. But nevertheless, the decision was made. It was quick. The reasons were stated, and it was done."

In a small business, there are times when a PR crisis will occur. Whatever it is, this example is a text book case on how to handle a crisis.

There are 5 rules one should always abide by in dealing with a PR crisis or with the media in general:

1. Respond Promptly: Reporters are on tight deadlines.
2. "No Comment" should be stricken from your vocabulary. If you can't offer an answer, at least provide a reasonable explanation instead.
3. Don't lie and don't speculate. This will only get you into trouble. Think Richard Nixon or Bill Clinton.
4. Know the audience of each medium. Every medium wants you to address their audience. If you don't know whom their audience is, ask them or call me.
5. Stick to what you know. You are not an expert in everything. A reporter will respect you (which usually means they will treat you fairly) if you tell them you don't know something, but will find out the answer and get back with them than if you try and BS them. But make sure you get back with them.

Larry Emsweller is a mass media insider, business, Internet and marketing consultant. He currently has an industry leading e-Seminar product on the market for small businesses that deal with publicity and PR called "Want to get on the Six O'clock News." Larry consults with small to medium sized business owners advising them on Public relations, advertising, Internet/ traditional marketing strategies, media and media relations. He is available to provide comment on this media situation or any other mass media related situation.

Contact: Larry Emsweller @ 615-423-1986 or LCEGROUPTN@


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