The series of press conferences after the shooting of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords and 19 others at a congressional meet-and-greet over the weekend was a study in proper media relations and crisis communications.

Especially well done were the media briefings from the University Medical Center in Tucson . The doctors walked the fine line between giving the facts, but also respecting the privacy of the patients.

Business owners can learn a great deal about media relations by watching breaking news and how it is handled. The briefings handled key point of media relations very well, including:

  • Stick with the facts
  • Protect the business. In this case, the medical center protecting the privacy of the patients was masterfully done.
  • Answer the questions. In the press conference I viewed, never did the words “no comment” come from any spokesperson.
  • Well-briefed spokespeople. The spokespeople also kept control of the media by keeping the briefing to a limited number of questions.
  • Keep everyone informed. The hospitals and law enforcement agencies promised updates as events changed.
  • What is next? Each of the briefings ended with announcing the time of the next briefing so the media can plan schedules.

Briefing the media takes balance, but winning media friends starts with giving the facts of the story in a timely manner.