Why You Shouldn’t Say ‘No Comment’ to the Media

The media can prove a great outlet for free press for your small business, as you have probably come to realize from reading this blog. A well written, well targeted press release can get you the publicity you require to get eyes to turn your direction and get your products moving. However, when something goes wrong in your company (or because of your company), you can also count on the media turning into your worst enemy. Why? Because it’s their job to report the news. And everyone knows the public loves to feed on the negative!

So what happens when things turn south and the media is knocking on your door, asking those hard questions for which you may not have a good answer? In many cases, the unprepared figures they have Constitutional rights and they can reply with the old “no comment.” Well, yes you do have that right, but it’s ill-advised to exercise it.

See, when you respond in this way, everyone assumes you mean something else. In other words, “no comment” is a lame attempt at a cover up. Here are a few things they are actually hearing in their heads instead of your reply:

  1. I don’t know what you’re talking about — Imagine the horror. Maybe there was a scandal that was just uncovered. And you as the business owner or PR person are confronted, caught off guard, and everyone thinks you have no clue what is going on. Now not only is the public witnessing the scandal unfold, but they also see you as uninformed.
  2. We did the something wrong but are afraid to admit it — You know exactly what you did, but you think admitting it will only make things worse. So now you’re just hiding something. And as far as the media is concerned, there’s probably more you’re hiding that hasn’t come to light yet. So they’re going to dig deeper. Watch out!
  3. I’m defensive — The average person’s response when accused of wrongdoing is to get defensive. In fact, it’s a natural defense mechanism. However, getting defensive only makes you look even more guilty.
  4. We have no acceptable justification for what occurred — You know exactly what happened and you simply have no response. Incidentally, this only makes the whole situation look worse. Rather than offering an answer to diffuse, the issue only grows larger in listeners’ minds.
  5. We did nothing wrong — Then there are those who believe your lack of comment means you really think you did nothing wrong. Not only that, you feel like you owe no one an explanation. Not a good PR move.

What to Do Instead of Avoiding the Answer

So we know you shouldn’t avoid commenting, but that leaves you trying to figure out what to say. While there is no one-size-fits-all response, here are a couple pointers to help you.

  • Verify — Say you are being pressed on whether or not a certain member of your organization had been arrested in the past. Rather than not comment, maybe tell the media that they will have to verify the information with the police.
  • Assure — Afterward, assure the public that you are doing everything you can to take care of the issue internally. So again to follow up on the last example, if your employee is accused of skeletons in his closet, say you are actively investigating the issue.

Have you ever been hit with a tough question from the media that you didn’t want to answer? Did you say “no comment?” Or did you respond differently? How did it work out for you?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free 160-page copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here:

3 Responses

  1. Ruxandra says:

    A very well-written article. In most cases, when we hear a NO-COMMENT answer we tend to think that somebody has something to hide. However, when being caught off guard, the fear of saying something wrong and trashing your(company’s) reputation is overwhelming. So, I guess when being in contact with the media, you really need to know how to handle the situation and be as honest and transparent as possible. In cases of uncertainty, media tends to exaggerate or invent facts, so I guess it is better to say what you have to say than leaving room for interpretation.

    I have written my own article on NO-COMMENT answer from a PR perspective, and I would really use your comments and opinions on it

  2. […] to be more careful with what is disclosed to the public because of legal or competitive reasons. A “no comment” is a response that will certainly generate speculation and get the gossip flowing about your […]

  3. […] 8. Use Twitter for reputation management. Negative tweets should be immediately addressed and neutralized. In a PR Crisis, there’s no room for ‘No Comment’. […]

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