Reporters won’t even bother to contact you unless they see an angle for a story in your material. They’re always looking for news that’s accurate, informative, and happening now. They know their audience and what will likely interest them better than you do. If you can tie your message in with the reporter’s perceived angle, you have a good chance of being used and getting publicity. Or, can you tie in material with a national concern or a major issue? A good reporter always likes a new angle for popular subjects in the news. You need to be a little creative on how you present your press releases and be prepared to discuss them further.
What do you do if a reporter asks negative questions about your business or finds fault with one or more of your products? Well, you don’t run and hide, because the story will be done with or without you, and it’s better to include your input. Confront the accusations and problems head on and explain your position. If the accusation is false, you must show proof or explain completely your side of the story. The negative article may run anyway, but it should be accompanied by your rebuttal.
A prosperous and growing business can be stopped in its tracks by negative publicity, so don’t ignore it; explain as soon as possible. Don’t admit guilt until you know all the facts and they are verified. If the accusations are correct, offer some type of apology and be willing to do any restitution necessary—and do it now. Don’t wait, because the consumer—the public—will only remember the problem, unless a solution accompanies it.
If you have trouble talking to the media under pressure, use a spokesperson, but be sure he or she knows all the facts and is available on the spot. The only things I know that benefit from negative publicity are some movies and the wrestling industry. Trust me, you don’t want it.
Whether the story is positive or negative, you want to read it. If it’s in a local publication, you should be able to acquire it easily— don’t wait until it’s sold out. If it’s a national magazine or newspaper, be sure to ask the reporter when it’s coming out and request a copy of the publication or at least a tear sheet. Mark your calendar to be sure you received your copy or delegate the responsibility to an assistant to follow up. If a few days go by and you haven’t
received your copy, get on the phone or email and remind the publication.
You need to see the story or article ASAP to respond to any phone calls or email concerning it. You also want to be sure all the facts are correct and immediately contact the reporter about any errors. If the publication needs to acknowledge any errors in print, make sure you also get a copy of that. Save these printed articles and stories and put together a portfolio when you accumulate several of them.