Today on our blog we at Red Banyan Group would like to tackle a question that we get from our clients all the time. It’s not always expressed verbatim, but the sentiment is the same: “If I give a reporter a comment, then won’t I just end up making the story a bigger deal?”
When it comes to handling high-stakes public relations it is critical that the decision on whether to engage or ignore the media must be made on a case by case basis. It’s impossible to map out a blanket blueprint that will apply across all scenarios. In fact, anyone who advises you otherwise should be strenuously avoided—otherwise you run the very real risk of compounding your problems in a big way.
This dilemma underscores why it is so important for companies and individuals facing reputational challenges to hire an experienced pr firm that will not provide “one size fits all advice,” but will actually have the requisite judgment and experience to provide professional advice on the best possible course of action.
All that being said, it is OFTEN the case that you are better off saying something rather than nothing. That is particularly true if you have indications that the story is moving forward with or without your cooperation and is going to wind up on TV, in the newspaper, online, etc.
Consider this: if you know that a journalist is working on a story about you and you make the strategic decision to ignore that email or fail to return that phone call asking you for comment, then it is almost guaranteed that the story will include lots of things about you, but not much if anything giving your perspective. After all, if you aren’t willing to speak up, then you can’t really expect others to convey your viewpoint.
Here’s an analogy that speaks to this topic….
If a train has already left the station and you suspect it is about to run off the tracks, then watching from afar isn’t going to have much impact. You may as well take cover, brace yourself and hope there are survivors.
Instead, to have any chance at all of averting a negative outcome, you are going to have to move swiftly, catch the engine, swing yourself aboard and do what you can to steer that train on a truer course.