How to draft a holding statement for the media

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Accidents happen. Sometimes the results are minor; some accidents, such as a large oil spill, can have drastic consequences. In the wake of a serious incident, the public has a right to know what happened and what is going on to fix the problem.

Your organisation's public relations department can provide the media with an initial holding statement that sets out the basic facts about the incident and lets people know that you are dealing with the situation. The statement must be carefully written in clear and concise language.

Appoint a person to draft and/or deliver the holding statement to the media. Typically, organisations employ public relations staff to handle these matters. Understand, however, that the media may need to hear from the actual decision-makers at the company, such as the owner or chief executive officer.

Begin your holding statement with a statement expressing your concern for any victims and your empathy for the situation.

State the basic facts of the incident. According to SAE Communications, your holding statement should answer the basic questions of what happened, who was involved, when it happened, where it happened and why it happened.

Explain that you are investigating the incident and doing all you can to reduce the chances of another incident and to make any amends.

Provide a timeline for when you will address the media again and how the media can contact the organisation for more information. Explain if and when the senior managers, such as the CEO, will be available to address questions and concerns.