The media coverage following a catastrophe should be balanced and factual, avoiding exaggerations. Close contact with the media is central to convey information about the incident, including social media. The initial media image of the crisis and its management has a tendency to stick. It is therefore important to provide correct information from the get-go about what is being done to manage the situation and avoid speculation. Disaster management receives abundant attention, as dramatic incidents fulfil several central news criteria: Conflict, sensation and relevance.
- Make sure that the municipality’s plan for crisis communication is updated and well known
- Be truthful
- Make sure you have adequate factual knowledge
- Stick to what you wish to say and make it simple
- Be friendly and helpful; keep your promises
- Reject falsehoods and act calm
- Avoid speculating or moving outside of your area of responsibility
- Avoid acting arrogant, aggressive or strict
- Avoid appearing emotionally cold or blaming others
- Never say “no comment”
Media coverage as experienced by the bereaved
Following the 2011 Norway terror attacks, a study was conducted to explore how the bereaved had experienced the media reporting after the attack. The analysis showed that the bereaved had experienced the media coverage as both negative and positive. The intense and continuous reporting served as constant reminders of the loss, triggering painful thoughts and emotions. This invaded and disturbed the grief process, creating an increased burden. Nevertheless, the bereaved applauded the media for uncovering the truth and perceived the media as an important information channel. Moreover, they felt that the media reports helped their networks to remember the incident so that they could provide support over time.