MP&F’s Top 25 PR Questions
June 26, 2012
McNeely Pigott & Fox is celebrating 25 years in business during 2012, and one of the ways we’re celebrating is by answering the 25 questions we are most asked about our business.
Question 3: Why should my organization talk with the media?
By Mike Pigott
When I was doing investigative reporting work during my journalism career, I would pursue a tip or lead to see if a wrong had been done. If the evidence was there, I would call the person who committed the misdeed and ask him or her to talk with me in person or by phone.
I seldom saw a case where that person didn’t help his or her case by presenting his or her side rather than stiff-arming and declaring, “No comment.” Readers could then judge the circumstances from two points of view. Whoever speaks with the media just needs to be thorough in preparing and accurate in responding.
Today, our company’s work often places us on the other side of the camera and notebook, with us advising clients about how to deal with media inquiries. Sometimes those questions are ones that they just don’t want to answer.
In almost every one of these instances, we advise them to do so anyway, even in cases where they have no chance of killing the story by doing so.
Here are some reasons that you are almost always better off responding or proactively seeking media interaction:
- Saying “no comment” is seen by many readers and viewers as being the same as declaring, “I’m guilty.” Fair or not, that is how it is. You don’t necessarily have to say much; but you should not say, “No comment.”
- A reporter can fill viewing time and print space with both sides of the story or just the other side. If you are a target of an investigative reporter, don’t expect “fair and balanced.” But you are better off getting some of your response out there than none at all.
- If you have a positive story to offer the media, avail yourself of that opportunity unless there are legal or competitive reasons to do otherwise.
- If you are facing potential negative coverage or if you have a chance for a positive feature story, you can use that opportunity to tell some of your organization’s story, e.g., “This accident was the first of its kind in our 50-year history. The reason for our great record is that every one of our employees goes through extensive safety training and yearly refresher courses. We put safety above all else.” (This sure beats “No comment.”)