Standing by: The use of standby statements
A standby statement is among the most basic of tools in the media relations toolkit. It’s a brief statement used to share an organization’s position with the media, typically in a situation where news is breaking quickly, reporters want information now, but you don’t have much to say.
In fact, many organizations create these statements well ahead of the time they’ll actually need to use them for scenarios they think are likely to occur.
Each standby statement has a unique purpose to fill, but here are some basic tips when writing:
Keep it concise. Share what you know in a way that best answers the “who, what, when and where” of the situation, and perhaps the “why.”
Stick to what you know. Just the facts! Refrain from making comments about others, or any statements that may later prove to be false. Phrases like, “we’re still exploring” or “an investigation is underway” are typical in these kinds of statements for a reason.
Be accurate. Reporters are moving fast. The last thing you want is for a story to be printed with inaccuracies because the reporter copy/pasted something you sent him or her.
Mean what you say. If there’s a problem, address it straight on. Apologize, if necessary, and be sincere.