Why No Comment Infuriates & Alienates Journalists

Your company, Bloop Family Plumbing, is in the middle of a national scandal. It seems one of your employees was caught fixing more than the plumbing at a job and it caught the media’s attention.

As the CEO, you’re now constantly bombarded with questions and interview opportunities from every station and paper in town. To stall for time until you can come up with solid answers, you constantly say “No comment!”

However, is this really the best way to go about putting out the fire you find yourself in? You constantly ignoring the question could not only irritate journalists you want to keep around for other matters but alienate them entirely.

Why So Mad?

Journalists are a busy bunch. If they’re not running to one story they’re busy preparing for another or gathering leads for yet another. So when they take time to run over to your office building to get a few questions and they’re met with a simple “no comment,” they’re naturally going to be irritated. That was a lot of time wasted.

And for what? You know you automatically look guilty. It doesn’t even have to be a major scandal we’re talking about. Heck, it doesn’t even have to be a scandal. How about a product release? After a while, the coy dodges regarding what your company will release next get old. Eventually you have to start handing over answers or the reporters will head elsewhere.

This is especially true if you have certain reporters you’re trying to cultivate. These relationships can dissolve very quickly if you don’t give them anything. It’s important to take a look at those who approach you in times like these. Are you interested in keeping them around? Then give them something, anything. Don’t just spurt out a “no comment” as you run inside the building. Even a simple “we’re looking into it and will get back with you later” can smooth things over, at least for a bit.

How to React

For an example of what’s a good response, let’s take a look at Anthony Weiner. Things aren’t going too well for the politician now, of course. However, in the initial stages of his scandal, he handled it rather deftly.

Instead of running away from journalists and dodging questions, Weiner made an effort to converse with everyone with a camera. As a result, many folks really bought into the idea his Twitter account was hacked.

Of course, it also helps to actually tell the truth, but that’s another story. In the meantime, learn from his initial reactions to the story. He kept a cool, light air around him at all times and was totally willing to give reporters a little sound bite. At the end of the day, that’s all any journalist can ask for.

What would you say to a reporter in the face of a major scandal?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts here: http://www.ereleases.com/prchecklist.html

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