Tanner Friedman
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No Comment? Only on T.V.

By Don Tanner

No one likes or wants negative publicity for their business, and no wonder. Unfavorable news coverage can severely impact a company's reputation and credibility; sometimes irreversibly. Yet, more often than not, when faced with the possibility that the media is pursuing a potentially damaging story, the inclination by many is to attempt to avoid the problem; perhaps uttering a terse, 'no comment," or, making themselves "unavailable for comment" altogether.

Unfortunately, in today's society where the media holds so much influence over public opinion, such a modus operandi typically does more damage than good. After all, what do you think when you read that someone, "could not be reached for comment?" The very phrase, for most, implies avoidance and guilt.

In fact, a recent nationwide opinion study found that 62% of those surveyed believe a company is covering up transgressions if its spokesperson replies 'no comment' to related inquires. Rather than hiding and or forced to be reactive, it is much more desirable to be prepared, proactive and seek to 'manage the messages' of a particular story that is being prepared.

This can often be accomplished by meeting with the inquiring reporter in order to walk them through the issues in question; educating them and accurately relaying your perspectives on the matter. And be sure what you do relate is honest and truthful. That said, some reporters are more receptive to this than others and every situation is different, so it is prudent to proceed with caution and forethought.

Often, it makes sense to seek counsel and preparation from a media or communications consultant. And while a positive piece is never guaranteed, which would you rather see published? A story in which you had at least some input as to its content, or, one in which you were not at all involved? This article originally appeared in the Detroiter magazine.



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