Since the chamber is seen as the expert on business in the community, it’s likely at some point you’ll be asked an uncomfortable question about a local business. This negative topic could involve a business closing or the latest scandal. Here’s how to handle it with grace and diplomacy.
Advice on Handling Difficult Questions from the Press
Before you answer the question you think you heard, make sure you’re are answering what they’re asking. Often reporters will ask probing questions hoping to get more of a story. If you don’t understand the question, ask them what they’re referring to. It’s better to be clear than give them information on town gossip.
Find the Positive
Linda Christianson from the Webster City Area Chamber shared that the best way to handle bad news like a business closing is by remaining positive. She suggested thanking the business for being a vital part of the community and tell them they will be missed. This keeps you above the gossip fray.
If the business is closing due to a scandal, your message could still be one of hope by focussing on the employees and getting them work, not commenting on the conditions of the closing.
Avoid Money Talk
A business closing often causes a lot of community gossip. Things like bankruptcy and misappropriated revenue might play into the equation. Don’t get involved in questions about those sorts of things. No one wins in those situations. If it involves bankruptcy or financial insolvency, you may have members who are owed money so don’t comment on financial matters.
Act as a Resource
Finally, if the reporter is asking about a large business folding or moving out of the area, make sure to publicize any resources you’re able to help with when it comes to those who have lost their jobs. That can be a time of great upheaval and not everyone gets the same message. Don’t assume the companies HR department passed along your information.
The local press can help you reach a vast number of people who may be affected by a closure or some other negative business occurrence. Make sure you partner with the press to ensure those people are taken care of to the best of your abilities.
If you’re not in a position to do it directly, become that resource that helps link those in need with those who can provide.
Have you ever found yourself in an uncomfortable position with the press? Do you have any advice? Share it here.