What Can You Learn from a Media Roundtable or Media Panel?

Katrina Media_0311By Gerard Braud

Another one just hit my LinkedIn group message discussion — Each month I get numerous announcements about associations inviting a media panel to talk to their members, most of whom are public relations people.

These media panels usually draw high attendance at a meeting, but do they benefit the members?

My observation — having sat through many of these, having been a journalist, having been on the panels, and as someone who specializes in media training and crisis communications — is that you should take the advice of these journalists with a grain of salt. No wait… take their advice with a block of salt.

The advice the media members give is bad advice. Often, the media give advice contrary to what you should do in a media interview and in a crisis.

“You should always tell us everything you know,” they usually say. In other words, they want you to go to confession with them. Media want to you confess every negative aspect of your business and your event.

My expert advice is that you should always be honest. However, you are never obligated to confess to them everything negative about your crisis.

My advice is to be prompt and timely with information to the media in a crisis. In fact, my entire crisis communication plan system is built on getting honest information to the media quickly. However, a key part of the plan is my addendum of 100 pre-written news releases that acknowledge known facts, while deflecting media speculation and negative details about your crisis.

On one hand, if you don’t know the media or how to function with the media, a media panel could be a useful part of your association meeting. However, if you don’t want to be given one-sided bad advice, may I suggest that after the panel gives their presentation, you dismiss them. Next, ask a media relations and public relations expert to give you their take on what the reporters said. You will definitely hear an opposing point of view and have an eye-opening program.

Please feel free to call me if you have questions about organizing such an event.