Media management is becoming a larger and larger issue for businesses and individuals of all kinds. The need to protect reputation, especially in an always-connected online world, drives the imperative for security, consultants and even bodyguards to recognize how quickly a threat can develop, why the response must be as measured as possible and why any combination of circumstances can lead to a variety of immediate and ongoing problems.
The good news is the demand for sophisticated protection from unwanted intrusion by scandal-mongers and privacy-violators is creating a well-trained force of highly competent and proactive security professionals with the skill and experience to provide real solutions to the problems of 24-hour media.
How do security professionals deal with the media? First thing is to know they’re coming and when. If you and your protection detail are prepared, it is much easier to come up with effective strategies to handle the event. One thing that needs to be kept in mind is if the principal is out in public with a security detail, there is usually some function that is underway or about to begin. That needs to be the focus, so the security personnel has to be able to manage both. This is easier said than done, but is also not impossible for accomplished and skilled personnel.
Establishing a confrontational tone with the media is the security equivalent of shouting at the rain. In the modern era of 24-hour news, aggressive news gathering is a fact of life that needs to be managed from a position of confidence and strength. Involving security and protection in a standoff every time a reporter shows up is only going to degrade readiness in the event there actually is an emergency that needs to be addressed. This is one of the many reasons good security will know how to engage with various outlets in a positive manner and defuse any unnecessary conflicts.
Hide in Plain Sight
Something as simple as using a famous client’s real name during a phone call to reserve a table for dinner can be enough to set off the media machine. Everyone in the food chain is looking for a way to involve themselves in the dream, and if they can’t ingratiate themselves successfully, they will sell their frustration to someone who can. Often, hostile and unusually aggressive reporters, photographers and others are only one text or phone call away, especially at a high-profile social site like a famous or exclusive restaurant, resort or club.
Whenever possible, experienced pros use aliases for the principal. Code words and time offsets can be arranged in advance, so only authorized personnel knows exact times and places. Alternate entrances are also effective, as media aren’t likely to look for famous people in places they don’t normally make appearances.
The more experienced executive security professionals become, the easier it is to deal with aggressive media, 24-hour news cycles and unusual logistics. One of the positive developments of the frenetic pace of everything is the fact nobody can muster a fifteen-second attention span, so even if something goes a little sideways, it will scroll by in a few minutes and be long forgotten by breakfast.