Communication with the outside media, press and with the public is so important during times of crisis. Even with awareness of this fact, there are still some common mistakes that hospitals make in crisis communication that can cause problems later for them. It is essential that good, prompt and effective communication skills be used while giving information to journalists and reporters during times of crisis to avoid confusion or guessing on the part of media or hysteria among the public.
All Hospital Staff Communicating With Media Should Be On The Same Page
It is so important that any member of a hospital staff who will be dealing with the media, reporters and journalists be trained in how to best present that information. He or she should know exactly what the hospital policies and rules are for handling inquiries that are sure to come up during a crisis. They should also be informed about exactly what information the hospital wants to release publicly.
One of the worst mistakes that can be made by a hospital is to have someone representing them who is untrained and not knowledgeable who could potentially say the wrong thing. This can cause harm to the hospital’s reputation or welfare. In a society that leans heavily towards lawsuits at the drop of a hat, it is crucial that the spokesperson for the hospital is thoroughly trained in exactly how to handle any situation.
Having A Single Spokesperson Is Usually The Best Policy
Some hospitals make the mistake of having several people answering questions relayed to them by press reporters and journalists during a crisis. This is a mistake and usually there should only be a single person who is responsible for all press conferences, inquiries and the public relaying of information about the crisis status. This person should be the only contact media has with hospital staff and all questions should be fielded by this person. This eliminates the possibility of one person saying something they shouldn’t and causing problems like more commotion and unwanted disruption during a time of crisis.
Emotions often run very high during a crisis, so the person chosen to deal with the media and press including journalists and reporters should be one who can work well under pressure and calmly answer all inquiries in a thoughtful and caring way. They should be able to answer and supply information in a way that will help to protect the good reputation of the hospital throughout the crisis.
Having A Good Plan Is The Best Option
It’s always best for a hospital to have a plan in place for use in a crisis that has been predetermined before the crisis happens. This can be done by having one person chosen to be the hospital representative. It is smart to have that person develop a good relationship with the media and press before a crisis ever occurs.
When a hospital does not have a good relationship with press and if they are evasive when answering questions or communicating information with the press, there will understandably be an adversarial relationship. It is better to have a more trustful, open and an allied relationship with journalists and media. The hospital should be as transparent as possible in crisis situations.
Transparency does wonders for fostering a good relationship. During a crisis, press members can stay calm and know that they will get the information they seek and that they need to report to the public. Crisis transparency is so important to a hospitals relationship with the public. It can foster a feeling of trust within the community.
Les Baker is a hospital administrator and guest author of the guide to the Top 10 Best Online Masters in Health Administration Degree Programs on Masters in Health Administration.