Press and media coverage can do wonders on your efforts to boost your profile and help build the reputation and credibility of your brand. However, in scenarios where you find yourself having to conduct damage control over an issue that is bubbling over within your business, press coverage can be tricky. The wrong words can put your reputation and the efforts of your entire business at risk. As a result, it’s crucial to make sure that when you do get involved with the press, you choose your words wisely.
If you’re gearing up for some media coverage about your company, make sure you keep the conversation clean and free of wrinkles by avoiding these taboos:
Anything Negative About Your Clients or Competitors
When you’re dealing with the media and put in a situation where you’re pressed to address an issue, your first thought might be to deflect by pointing at a client or competitor. In other moments where you find yourself looped into a press conversation because of your association with a client or competitor, you might find yourself at a loss for the appropriate words.
It’s in these moments that you should always remind yourself to avoid making any comments about clients or competitors that could be perceived as negative or ambiguous. Your comment about how terribly uncompromising a customer or how askew a competitor is will ultimately get back to them, along with other potential clients. Not only could your words hurt your current relationships, but they could also make someone considering working with you – or even a current client of yours – think twice about your business practices. In the worst case scenarios, it could lead them to wonder if you’re a trustworthy enough person to do business with. It’s for these reasons that it’s always good to stay tight lipped about the negative perceptions you might have of the people you work with side by side.
Always think twice before using press coverage as a sounding board for your political frustrations and beliefs. These days it’s virtually impossible to dodge or escape any questions related to politics. It’s no wonder either, since politics is an important and fundamental topic, and these days it’s an extremely fiery one. As you grow as a company, you will find that your customers will demand you take a stance on certain topics and issues. While putting brand values on display will be important in your efforts to establish a broader customer base, avoid including yourself into the great debate of politics. Mostly because no matter what you say your comments will be considered controversial by one group or another and you will run the risk of alienating a colossal chunk of your audience.
When things turn south, and the media comes knocking on your door, you’re bound to have quite a few hardball questions thrown your way. In many cases, you’ll feel the urge to mimic the words of many figureheads before you and issue the classic “no comment” reply. However, do your best to resist. This is important to remember during any conversation you have with the press, and your “no comment” statement can say volumes and leave quite a lot for journalists to infer. The greater implications of this remark are that you: 1) have something to hide or 2) don’t know what you’re talking about.
It also puts you on the defensive side of your exchange with the press and will typically raise eyebrows and suspicion amongst your customer base. In a scenario where you find yourself unable to answer a question issued to by the media, defer the question by asking for verification of the information behind the question.
“Could This Be Off The Record?”
People often make the mistake of asking to have something “off the record,” without ever fully understanding what this question means. Most assume it means the journalist either won’t mention what you’ve said or cannot identify you as a source. The truth is, while the journalist may not name you, she can still make a reference to your job role, who you work for and what you said. A combination of all of these aspects will likely make you recognizable.