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No Comment…Never!

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No Comment…Never!

‘The company spokesman declined to comment.’

‘The company did not make themselves available for interview.’

‘The organisation did not respond before deadline.’

These statements and similar are counter-productive.

In recent days, we have seen a ticketing company, a mining giant and a senior politician stick to this script. We have also witnessed the spokesman for an international bicycle scheme come onto the radio and spout platitudes, talk in circles and ignore facts.

Companies and people that do this are stuck in an old paradigm where scrutiny was limited and stories would be forgotten after one news cycle. In those days, today’s news did indeed become tomorrow’s fish wrappers. However, as Julia Roberts (Anna Scott) said in Notting Hill, when discussing the publication of a story featuring some old, nude photos of her, ‘…this story will be filed. Every time anyone writes anything about me, they'll dig up these photos. Newspapers last forever.’

If they don’t get involved they will be left behind and find others speaking for them or about them (in the traditional media, online and on social media). This lack of engagement has contributed to the declining trust in organisations and our political class.

On the positive side, there are many companies that deal with the media in a very professional manner including those that have gone beyond the old media and pushed ahead by using social media to engage directly with their staff, customers, stakeholders bypassing the traditional channels.

 

Here are some reasons why corporations should comment when approached by the media, particularly when things are not going well:

  • It allows them to tell their own story and put their case forward
  • It builds trust with customers
  • Staff respect their bosses when they seek to defend their reputation
  • Governments and regulators are more comfortable dealing with them.

In a previous life I fought and won an argument that the company I worked for would never tell a journalist that we had ‘no comment’. That came at some cost in terms of effort and resources but it also repaired our credibility with the media and ensured that our voice and opinion was included in stories about us. This didn’t avoid us suffering ‘bad press’ but that was largely due to us stuffing up. And I know that there were many negative stories that did not run because we had deposits in the trust bank that we were able to call upon.

But there are a few basic rules when dealing with the media and engaging in the debate:

  • Be prepared and know your facts;
  • Train up your CEO and other spokespeople to learn how to engage professionally with the media;
  • Have the resources in place to deal with the media on a 24/7 basis;
  • Take the time to get to know the journalists and editors that are likely to cover your business; and above else
  • Be authentic and tell the truth – speak like a real person and if you have made a mistake, acknowledge it and tell us how you will fix it.

As it happens, Daymark can help you apply these simple rules! Get in touch…

Published: 20/09/2017 Author: Tags: , , , Back to News