'Feed the beast' in a crisis, says Sky News' associate editor

Sky News' associate editor has advised PROs to have a plan for 'feeding the beast' of rolling 24 hour news in a crisis situation.

'Feed the beast': Sky News
'Feed the beast': Sky News

‘It’s no good giving us a statement and then not dealing with us again. Rolling news is a hungry voracious beast. You need a plan for feeding the beast,’ said Simon Bucks.

‘That might be organising regular briefings, shifts for spokespeople, or a place for us to camp outside somewhere. We want every little scrap of news as it happens. If you make us wait until the following day, we’ll find our own sources,’ he added.

Bucks was speaking at PRWeek’s Crises in a Wired World conference on Tuesday. He was on a panel alongside Sky News reporter Ursula Errington.

She agreed: ‘I still see a lot of complete shutdown. But there is always a way of getting a story. Even if you battle down the hatches, we will end up going round the sides.’

Errington said that the ideal crisis statement was concise, containing the message, as well as facts and detail. She said it was ‘frustrating’ when a PRO told her to ‘read the website’ when she asked for information, adding she may be on a tight deadline.

She also said that in a crisis, PROs should keep journalists briefed about the timings of various developments. ‘I understand the job you have to do, but it may be that you can tell me when we will have a statement. We don’t like surprises in news, we like to know what’s coming.’

She added PROs could also give a journalist a background steer to give them a better understanding of the whole picture of a story.

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