Nov 05 2010
Whenever the news media calls an organization, be it for-profit or nonprofit, it is presenting a golden opportunity to enhance the organization’s reputation and say something it wants to say to people to whom it wants to say it.
Often when the news media calls, the news is good, or neutral, e.g., if a reporter needs an expert to comment on a news event. If it’s good news, the organization can enhance its reputation, using the story as a platform to present the good news and to make some basic messages about its mission and objectives. And there is no organization that will not benefit from one of its staff being proclaimed an expert by the news media.
When the news is bad, the news media is giving the organization the means to defend itself or give its point of view. The news media is likely going to report the bad news no matter what. In most cases it will be in the organization’s best interests to tell its side of the story.
Even if you can’t give a comment because the subject is confidential or related to a lawsuit, you can at least tell why you can’t comment. When you say “no comment,” the organization comes off as secretive. But when you say why you can’t comment, you evoke empathy, because most people intuitively understand that sometimes constraints exist. They just want to know what the constraints are.
Sometimes the news media will call with what they think is bad news, but which really isn’t. By responding with accurate information, the organization can convince the reporter not to cover a story or to see that it’s really a positive development.
In short, there is never a reason not to respond to the news media when they call, as long as the organization responds carefully and accurately and protects confidential information.