The New White House PR Move You Shouldn’t Copy

In real life, the worst reaction to a news story you don’t like, is “We’re going to pull their credentials.”

It’s even worse than, “We’re going to pull the ads.”

Take it from someone who has granted thousands of credentials and even seen a few revoked, which, absent a violation of a credential policy (which should never focus on news content or individual style) is purely an act of power and ego and has never solved any media relations issue.

This weekend, The Washington Post reports that the President of the United States has implored his staff to deny access to journalists whose questions he doesn’t like. It is yet another example of how this White House should not be a model for your business.

A few years ago, we consulted an organization with a CEO who suffered from multiple media relations issues. He decided to “solve” one of them by taking away one journalist’s credentials, in effect removing the journalist from the organization’s events. The purported reason was that the journalist violated a regulatory rule in connection with his latest book. The real reason was that the book painted an unflattering picture of the CEO. Whatever animosity existed on the journalist’s end was squared, maybe even cubed, after having credentials revoked. I told the CEO to expect that a sequel was already being written with the credential issue as its catalyst (later on, I learned that it was). After the CEO left the organization and the staff sorted out the situation, restoring this credential was a top priority, proving to be a smart move, as reflected in ongoing coverage and ultimately, the next book.

This is yet another example that what may seem like it “works” for The White House will not “work” for your business. If you receive negative coverage or just don’t like the style of a journalist, banning them somehow will not result in coverage you like better.

Base your PR decisions and strategies on proven, experienced counsel not the anomaly of all anomalies living on Pennsylvania Avenue.