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How to Hold a Media Conference in a Crisis: A Near-Perfect Example

By James Fitzpatrick


As soon as a critical incident occurs, all eyes will be on you. Your key stakeholders, the media, and the broader general public will be itching to see how you respond. Will your staff and media representatives come across as ready, willing, and able to handle the incident?

Or will they seem unprepared, evasive, and incapable?

When the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) was rocked by a murder-suicide of a professor and student in June 2016, the university's response was exceptional - and it was led by the media conference held by Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Scott Waugh.

Waugh's media conference was a near-perfect 'textbook' example for how an organisation should respond in a critical incident for five simple reasons:

  1. He expressed genuine empathy and concern for the victims and the effect that this would have on the wider UCLA community.

  2. He displayed confidence, resilience, and professionalism in his demeanour, language, voice, and attire.

  3. He reminded and reassured all that UCLA had trained and prepared for situations just like this one.

  4. He followed a simple and effective information model, similar to that of BC Crisis Response Model (establish the facts, highlight what you do and don't know, demonstrate what you're doing and explain what you want your stakeholders to do).

  5. He didn't leave the fate of the university's reputation in the hands of others; he led the media conference decisively, flanked (but not controlled) by emergency services and external authorities.

Watch Waugh's conference for yourself:


Getting to this standard doesn't come easy - it takes proper training and lots of practice.

Want to learn how to respond at this level?

Our media training, designed according to your organisation’s needs, includes:

  • Media protocols and current landscape

  • Responding to crisis situations

  • Strategic messaging

  • Practical training and realistic simulations

And helps your staff, particularly those entrusted to be the face of the business at critical times, to:

  • Liaise with media and stakeholders

  • Manage communication requirements in a crisis

  • Protect and uphold the organisation’s brand and reputation

  • Communicate effectively on all platforms (including social)

  • Perform media interviews for the organisation with confidence

Our training is practical, includes live simulations, and will help you develop a media and crisis ready team that’s equipped to act quickly, decisively, and professionally.

Click here to request a quote for your organisation or find out more.

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