When dealing with situations that require high-stakes and crisis PR support, one of the worst mistakes that can be made is choosing to pass up the opportunity to engage and make your perspective heard.
In order to perform their jobs ethically and responsibly, reporters must give a fair opportunity for the subjects of their stories to provide their side of the story. How else could a reporter demonstrate objectivity unless he/she affords a chance to people on opposing sides of an issue to express themselves?
An article in Today’s Wall Street Journal about Baby Boomers being targeted in scams provides a perfect example. After reporting that lawsuits have been filled against a man for allegedly targeting church-goers in investment schemes, and that those claims are now being investigated by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, the reporter called the accused on the phone and sent emails.
According to the article, the man behind the scams “didn’t respond to emails seeking comment,” and “a man who answered a phone number [he] has used declined to identify himself but said that [he] ‘doesn’t do comments.’”
By clearly avoiding the reporter and deciding not to offer comment, the individual actually communicates the opposite of what he is hoping.
Red Banyan Group works closely with businesses facing complex and serious situations and in virtually every case we advise our clients to have something to say, and to take the time to engage with reporters and to supply valuable information that will help the journalists gain a fuller understanding of the circumstances.
Clamming up and running from reporters is not a strategy, but a tactic (and a bad one at that). Refusing to comment is a surefire way to leave it to readers to draw their own conclusions. Willful avoidance to answer questions typically suggests that somebody has something to hide.
The accused Ponzi schemer in today’s paper illustrates that, ironically, not making a statement can often make an incredibly strong statement. Or in the words of country singer Alison Krauss: “You say it best when you say nothing at all.”