As an experienced PR person (I feel one year on the job and a 5 year degree makes me an “expert”) there’s one piece of wisdom I’d like to pass on to anyone out there who has anything to do with the media. NEVER*, NEVER**, ever say “no comment.” It’s poor media management, it takes away an opportunity to express your point of view in the public sphere and it just makes you look guilty. Don’t do it. Ever. Someone should pass this advice on to Sylvester Stallone and his management company. He copped a hiding in the media after he was busted trying to import 48 vials of illegal “stay young and fit” growth hormones on a promotional visit to Australia – eager to avoid uncomfortable questions in the future the Stallone camp has banned Australian journalists from attending his press conferences. The ultimate “no comment” – as a result every major Australian newspaper ran a story about his poor sportsmanship and recalcitrance. The rules for dealing with the media are (for those of you planning on ever being in front of a camera, or talking to a journalist).
1. Figure out your key message and stick to is – say nothing else if need be, all the reporter is looking for is a quote to write a story around – if you only say one thing that’s the only thing they’ll quote.
2. Never say no comment – if you don’t want to comment come up with a standard line explaining you won’t comment at this point as you’re waiting for more information – by the time that information comes the story should be well and truly out of the news cycle.
3. Don’t lie to the journalist.
4. Don’t try to unsay something you’ve said – that puts a big flashing neon sign over the statement – corrections are ok, flat out denials not so good.
5. Don’t get angry with what’s said. K-Rudd apparently needs to learn this one – what’s printed is printed, you can’t unprint something. Nor should you try to put pressure on a journalist – that breeds contempt and that’s bad. K-Rudd is looking into his media management strategy.
6. Don’t crack wise with journalists – if you say something that can potentially be taken out of context it probably will be. Only say what you want to be quoted.
Funnily enough, I started writing this entry yesterday just before I had to say “no comment” to a journalist – although he was a uni student trying to break a story we didn’t want broken so I’m not overly concerned about the far reaching implications of that – and I didn’t “no comment” him – I just didn’t return his calls.
*capitalised to indicate importance.
**repeated to indicate importance.