Crisis Communication Plan

Media Procedures for Church, District, and Conference Staff

Handling Telephone Calls from Reporters
- Take a written message (don’t transfer to voicemail without taking message)
- Get reporter’s name, media outlet, direct phone #, and deadline
- Ask for topic of story
- Explain that a church spokesperson will return call
- Don’t answer questions yourself
- Be polite, but firm
- Keep a log or written record of media calls

“Hold Response”
“I want to make sure we give you the most accurate and up-to-date information. Our
(conference communicator) or (pastor) or (appropriate person) can best help you. If you
give me your contact information, deadline and topic that you’re calling about, I’ll have
that person return your call as soon as possible.”

Handling Reports On-site
- Refer questions to pastor, conference communicator or district superintendent.
- Again, be polite but firm.
- Do not communicate in any way your personal opinion.
- Don’t make any attempt to speak “off the record.”
- Don’t ever respond with “no comment.”

Handling Casual Conversations or Question about a Crisis
- Don’t speculate, repeat unconfirmed information or express personal opinions
- Don’t feel that you are obligated to answer questions
- Do respond with a brief, positive, general statement

Contact information for Conference Director of Communications:
  Jerry Wolgemuth
    - Office phone: 800.874-8474
    - Mobile phone: 717.903.5881

Media Procedures for Church and Conference Staff - PDF

When the Press Calls, It's Not Necessarily a Bad Day - Video

Can we give a witness?
How the Church can maintain the integrity of its voice in the media spotlight during times of crisis.

This is a project thesis submitted in candidacy for the degree of Doctor of Ministry by Kathleen Elaine Kind, Wesley Theological Seminary, Washington, D.C., May 2012. Rev. Dr. Kind is Superintendent of the Altoona District, Susquehanna Conference, The United Methodist Church.

This project came as a result of the author's experience with the press after a mission team from her church was in a terrorist bombing. The author proposes a protocol of things that a pastor or church leader can do before, during, and after a crisis in order for the church to be a witness and maintain the integrity of its voice in the media spotlight during times of crisis. The protocol was designed after conversation with persons who respond to the press professionally as well at the author's personal experience, and was tested against other church's experiences with the press after crises.

NOTE BY JERRY WOLGEMUTH, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, SUSQUEHANNA CONFERENCE: This thesis is a valuable, and very readable describing to help local churches understand the protocol during a response to the public press during a crisis. We are grateful to Dr. Kind for her permission to use this thesis in its entirety. Questions may be directed to me at 717-903-5881. Look for further resources at this location on the Conference website.

Can We Give A Witness by Dr. Kathy Kind - PDF