How to React to a poor News Story About Your Company

People occasionally ask me be it ever appropriate to freeze out a reporter, or won’t talk with him again. Whenever I hear that, I immediately think about scenes from "The Godfather" and "Fatal Attraction," filled with horse’s head and boiled bunny. I imagine frustrated interviewees suddenly appearing as caped crusaders, exacting revenge on unfair journalists by "rubbing them out."

Think hard before you do this. Freezing out a reporter is a dramatic step that often backfires. In the end, you almost certainly think a company is guilty whenever a newscaster says, "We attemptedto contact representatives of Huge Corporation, however they didn’t return our calls."

Before you blacklist a reporter, examine these remedies:

It’s an age-old truth: The closer you are to a news story, the much more likely you can find it flawed. Ask neutral parties to learn, pay attention to or watch the story and present you feedback. You could be surprised to find that the message you hoped would complete did.

Reporters need sources, and good reporters are prepared to hear their sources’ objections. (They could not trust you, however they usually listen.)

Remain polite whatever the reporter’s response. Reporters will react easier to a discussion about factual errors when compared to a differing opinion, but you’re welcome to create your case if you were to think his view lacks perspective. If the reporter got an integral fact wrong, you’re eligible for request a correction.

You could have forums to respond, for instance a letter to the editor, op-ed or a website’s comments section. Don’t repeat the initial errors in your response, since doing this gives those errors more airtime. Just articulate your view.

If you cannot get anywhere with the reporter, increase your objections with the reporter’s boss. Who knows, you could be the fourth person to complain about the reporter this week.

You will find a downside, though: No-one loves to be complained about, and the reporter might take it from you with even less favorable coverage.

Whether it’s clear the news headlines organization is irrevocably biased against your company, you have two choices:

1. Take off all access.

2. React to subsequent inquiries with precision.

I recommend the latter, this means sending a brief, written statement in response to queries. That brief statement prevents the reporter saying you refused to comment, and provides you more control over the quote.

The only time I would recommend cutting off access is when you will not gain anything from talking with the reporter. Those cases may exist, but they’re rare. Good media management means finding ways to use journalists-not avoiding them.

Cutting off a news outlet’s usage of your company doesn’t mean you stop communicating. Use your company website, blog and corporate social media to keep communicating together with your key audiences.

That is an excerpt from Brad Phillips’ new book, The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Have to know Before THE NEXT Interview. Phillips can be the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm, and blogs at Mr. Media Training.

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