Getting it Right is a Two-way Street
I really thought Brad Phillips was spot-on in his blog post, 7 Things to Do When The Media Gets It Wrong, because we need to recognize that reporters have a daunting and time-sensitive job.
As in all interpersonal communications, talking things over is typically the most constructive approach. Not communicating with media is at the end of the list, when all attempts to fix the problem have been unsuccessful.
I am a great believer in corporate transparency and story telling. I have found that the best way to prevent mistakes is to always supply a backgrounder with all of my releases so the reporter has all the necessary facts to write the story.
Having said that, there are situations when organizations should not communicate with media.* They are so critical to my job that I keep them posted to my computer:
- Employees have not yet been notified about a specific issue
- Employee, client or patient privacy is never breached for any reason
- A disaster or emergency has occurred and next-of-kin have not been notified
- Sensitive competitive information would be divulged
- Security legislation would be breached
- Union negotiations are underway and an information blackout is in effect
- Legal counsel has advised against communications
What are some other situations?
I also keep former TV reporter Gerard Braud’s “Don’t Talk To The Media; 29 Secrets You Need to Know,” on my desk because he reminds the reader how difficult the task of reporting is and how little time they have to build their stories.
Reporters and organizations both bear the responsibility to disclose the truth, making getting it right a two-way street.
Links for this post:
*Paraphrased from IABC literature – IABC: http://www.iabc.com/
Gerard Braud: http://www.donttalktothemedia.com/