Blacklisting journalists who write negative stories about your company is tempting, but all it accomplishes is building conflict between your company and the media. One main goal of public relations is to build bridges, not burn them. Blacklisting journalists delivers only negative results, and can often earn your company (and it’s public relations department) a bad reputation in the media. I know from my own experience that being blacklisted can have serious consequences.
A large, very well-known company blacklisted me once after a series of negative articles. When I called the company for comment for subsequent articles, they refused to return my calls. Thus, when my articles about the company hit the presses, the company always had no comment, which means there was always only one side to my story. And believe me, none of the articles were positive.
The saddest part of all of this is that my articles about this company were all accurate and backed-up by on-the-record sources. The articles were not cheap shots or unwarranted diatribes; these were news stories that the company simply did not want reported. But the company had every opportunity to defend themselves. Instead, they decided to launch a silent, yet personal, vendetta against me and it backfired in the form of some extremely negative publicity.
At least a half dozen other companies blacklisted me. Some, I know actually had me on a list of journalists not to deal with, others simply stopped returning my calls. I never received complaints about my articles about these companies from the company directly, or from my editors. What I suspect is that these companies felt talking to me was a lost cause. To this day, I am still angry that these companies felt I had a grudge, motive, or agenda. I was doing my job, which was reporting the news. These public relations departments, by not dealing with me, were not doing their job. Their companies suffered as a result.
Journalists speak to each other, and public relations is usually a hot topic. Word spreads about blacklisting and all of sudden the company — and its public relations department — has a negative rep among journalists. The level of trust journalists have in a company instantly decreases because we value what our blacklisted peers say and we understand the difficulties of the profession. Again, does blacklisting a journalist help or hurt your company? Journalists are going to write the story with or without your help, but a public relations consultant can’t get something into print or on the air without the help of a journalist.
When you are quoted in the media as a representative of your company, you have to be careful about what you say. Whatever comes out of your mouth reflects on your company, your product, and your fellow employees. Your words help shape your company’s public image. And when you publicly — or privately — blacklist a journalist, you’re speaking louder than any “no comment.”
This article, written by Ben Silverman, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.