Solutions to Media Request Confusion
Alistair Hodgett shares an evergreen post and sage advice on how to respond to media requests.
Never saying “no comment” is one of the fundamentals of media relations. But the imperative to respond to media requests can weaken your long-term position, regardless of how well you handle the individual interviews or requests for information. The process of developing your communications and public affairs strategy should confirm where, for some organisations and companies, it is essential to not engage on certain issues.
It is important to recognise – and to have colleagues and key external partners understand – that critics and opponents will sometime seek to trigger media attention or interview requests with the primary purpose of provoking you to overreact, or at least to react in a way that can be exploited. For an actor with asymmetric resources relative to their target – for example a small campaigning charity trying to target a large company, organisation or industry – this requires limited resources from the charity and has the potential to demand large investments from the target to evaluate the risk and manage a response.
If you’re a target of sustained attempts to provoke responses, review whether more negative than positive effects may result from such a response. This includes whether you will have to devote resources to the issue which you could more usefully employ elsewhere. Not responding on specific issues should be an option within your communications strategy, allowing you to focus on the set of issues you can (and must) win or defend with the audiences that matter.
If you’re seeking to employ this approach and provoke a response from a target, avoid becoming predictable, as this allows your opponent to increasingly anticipate your actions and prepare for them. One of the characteristics of small campaigning charities that is hardest for larger organisations to understand and anticipate is when they will switch issues or channels or delegate leadership to other campaign groups or individuals.
Key points include:
- No comment
- Triggering responses
- Becoming predictable
Read the full article, Responding to All Media Requests? Doing Nothing is Sometimes the Best Action, on LinkedIn.