Paulson Makes Himself Available and Controls the Debate

Last Updated Sep 22, 2008 3:56 PM EDT

Say what you will about the current financial mess on Wall Street, you have to credit Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson for making himself fully available to the media despite the crushing responsibilities and obligations he must have. He was on four Sunday talk shows yesterday and did countless other media appearances and press conferences over the past week.

By making himself available and credible, Paulson is currently controlling the story about the crisis (hello, paging Ben Bernanke...) and therefore will have the most impact on the final form of any bailout or other remedy.

Paulson's moves echo the advice of uber-crisis wizard Sam Singer, who says the number one thing spokespeople must do in a crisis is "be available."

"Even when you don't have a lot to say, be there to say it," Singer advises.

Singer spoke last week at a PRSA Silicon Valley spokesperson training event at Microsoft's Silicon Valley campus. It was the third of our four professional development sessions on media training this year, and I'm serving as one of the trainers for the series (the fourth is on November 7, "Inside the Newsroom: A day in the life of reporters, editors, producers, anchors.").

Singer's other tips:

  • You always want to be the first one out of the chute with your version of events
  • The best thing you can do is raise key questions that change the way people are looking at the crisis
  • Be a reliable source, even in non-crisis times and when you don't have a story -- it's how you build credibility
  • To win a battle during a crisis, you've got to be willing to push back -- don't be passive
  • Jon Greer

    Jon Greer has been analyzing media and PR for more than 25 years. He's been a journalist and a PR executive, and has been a featured speaker for many years at the Bulldog Reporter Media Relations Summit, and served as Bulldog's Editorial Director for their PR University series of weekly how-to audio conferences.

    Jon provides PR services including media relations and freelance writing to clients including start-ups, law firms, corporations, investment banks and venture capital firms. In addition, Jon provides spokesperson training. Learn more about Jon's training programs at The Media Bridge.