The Role of Moderator at Emergency Press Conference

Participated in a mock emergency press conference
organized by a PR firm.

Crisis scenario; Fire accident at an auto parts factory,
killing 2 employees, injuring dozens who are now in hospital.
Little damage to the neighbors.
Assuming 2 hours have past since the accident happened and
now the first emergency press conference is to be held.
The presenters are CEO, Director for Technology,
Factory Manager and PR Director who is going to be a moderator.

In making a deep bow with saying “we are sorry “in front of
the reporters under a rain of boos and catcalls like
“Murderer!!” and dizzy flashlights, you get nervous and
realize the difficulty to present yourself
even you know it is mock.

One of the things I learnt from this experience is
the importance of the role of a moderator.
You get all kinds of questions, some unexpected, some tricky,
some just whipping you up.
A skillful moderator can control traffic by saying
“let us answer for ○×Journal first”
while you are getting tons of tough questions
from overheated reporters.
Or he can dodge questions which you cannot answer right
away (such as accident record) by commenting
“we will prepare the materials ASAP”

The purpose of the emergency conference immediately
after the accident is to make an apology for letting the
fatal accident happen, fact situation, and further responses.

Since you are holding an interview with limited knowledge
toward the accident and the actions you are going to take,
you need to be careful to choose your words.
Especially CEO needs to show her sincerity rather than
her dodging skill with artful words.

Under such a situation, it is very helpful for presenters that a
moderator, rather in a neutral position under less pressure,
can handle questions properly.
In fact, I played a role of CEO, but thanks to the
excellent mediator, I was able to have time
to think toward questions, calm myself down and eventually
pull myself together.

Fortunately I haven’t made diredt use of this experience so far
but since then, I have come to pay more attention how
a moderator functions at press conferences or panel discussions,
especially with multi-speakers.
Unspectacular but key role a moderator has.

by yokopw | 2006-03-17 00:37 | in English  

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