How to Stay on the Media’s Good Side

1 02 2012

While some debate that any coverage is good coverage because at least it gets your name out there, I disagree. One bad story can tarnish the way a company is viewed and that’s why I think this article is really interesting. Here are some tips for keeping the media on your good side.

 

PR: The Good, Bad and Ugly

3 Easy Ways to Guarantee Bad Media Coverage

by Wesley Hyatt on 11/03/2010

Just as there are steps to take to improve your public relations power, there are ones you can follow that will ensure your reputation and media coverage will be horrible. Having worked in both newspapers and PR, I think I can speak with some authority about the relationship between the two industries and how these three approaches can make the media associate you and/or your company more negatively than positively.  Usually by extension, the general public will feel the same way.

1)     Treat the media as cheaply as possible.

When George Shinn launched the Triangle Kitty Hawks, Raleigh’s franchise for the unlamented World League of American Football, the only refreshments provided to reporters at the press conference were Jolly Ranchers candy. The arrival of the first professional football team in the area was celebrated with food that cost less than what some people spend for Halloween. A reporter who worked at my paper attended the event, and he royally (and amusingly) roasted the whole affair. Others were not impressed either, and the Triangle Kitty Hawks had a negative impression at the start that it never overcame.

Bad media treatment will make a great announcement written up as only a fair one and a mediocre one judged a disaster. When Allen Carr produced the widely panned 61st Academy Awards, critics noted the pressroom’s awful food. That revelation made the Oscars appear just as badly managed backstage as it was on stage, something that made Academy members drop Carr from future shows.

All you need to impress the media is just decent finger foods and drink. Providing lousy food and drink is even worse than none at all, because it indicates you put no thought into the affair, or if you did, you put the wrong thought into it.

2)     Believe you are above any criticism from the media.

NBC/Universal CEO Jeff Zucker always had deflected complaints from critics about how he had taken a No. 1 TV network to No. 4 during his tenure and kept it there for years without retribution as its quality and ratings shrank. Zucker thought he understood the business more than media observers and thus discounted their protests as just being envious of the position he held.

But the TV industry noted his disdain with alarm. When Comcast prepared to take over the company and show its supporters that it wanted NBC to do better, it announced that Zucker would be fired. Zucker sounded like the only person shocked by this decision. His poor performance alone certainly was cause for his dismissal, but many believe his aversion to admitting his many programming mistakes–which TV reporters detailed–played a factor as well. Did I mention he also gave a crappy press preview party a couple of years ago?

3)     Stonewall and give no information whatsoever.

This is not the same thing as a “No comment” answer. This is when you purposely avoid answering the media in any way, thinking that if you say nothing, they will write nothing in response. Sorry, it does not work that way, and it only encourages reporters to find other sources who will talk, particularly ones who may oppose you. The result can be a piece that makes you scramble for damage control afterward – if in fact you do not lose your job and/or friends as a consequence.

Please share your ideas of other ways to generate bad media coverage in the Comments section below.

 

Photo credit: Patricia Brach

 

 

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