Pandemic Paranoia and a Media Master

Want to see a Media Master rise from the chaos and anxiety surrounding the Coronavirus story? Stick around.

Or maybe you have bigger things to worry about. PR pros are finding themselves with lots of challenges related to the COVID-19 outbreak, not the least of them is a befuddling irony: The crisis is creating an urgent need for media training and crisis consulting while simultaneously prompting companies to curtail travel and onsite meetings.

For this reason, I want to let you know that we have expanded our remote media training and consulting services, to help our clients deal with the COVID-19 issue, and any other media issues that stubbornly refuse to wait until this health crisis is over.

Now, about that Media Master. If you don’t live in New York, you may have missed Governor Andrew Cuomo’s calm, credible, and yes, reassuring news conference (You can scroll through all the introductions in the beginning).

Cuomo’s presentation wasn’t simply good by comparison to other leaders’ recent statements, it was objectively superb. Here’s why:

  • Cuomo delivered in his natural plain-spoken and authentic manner, rather than reading a script or a teleprompter. He was believable.
  • He exuded concern but not panic, a recurring theme we are training our clients to embrace for their own presentations on COVID-19.
  • He remained entirely apolitical, thereby reaching out to all constituents, including the ones who didn’t vote for him.
  • He talked solutions (1,000 tests per week, 40-million dollars in funding, a plan to disinfect schools). This is critical in crisis communications.
  • His use of a personal anecdote about his anxious daughter (go to 6:36) made him relatable, and also defined his own PR strategy, “Don’t tell me to relax, tell me why I should be relaxed.”

Was it a perfect press conference? No. But when your biggest mistake is an awkwardly loose collar, you’re in pretty good shape. And you still qualify as a Media Master.

Mark Bernheimer

Mark Bernheimer is a former CNN correspondent and the founder of MediaWorks Resource Group, an internationally renowned media training and consulting firm.