📺 Stream EntrepreneurTV for Free 📺

How to Respond to a Negative News Story About Your Company Freezing out a reporter should be your last resort. Try one of these less extreme responses instead.

By Brad Phillips

entrepreneur daily

This story originally appeared on PR Daily

People occasionally ask me whether it's ever appropriate to freeze out a reporter, or refuse to speak to him again.
Whenever I hear that, I immediately think of scenes from "The Godfather" and "Fatal Attraction," complete with horse's head and boiled bunny. I imagine frustrated interviewees suddenly appearing as caped crusaders, exacting revenge on unfair journalists by "rubbing them out."

Think hard before you do that. Freezing out a reporter is a dramatic step that often backfires. After all, you probably think a company is guilty when a newscaster says, "We attempted to contact representatives of Huge Corporation, but they didn't return our calls."

Before you blacklist a reporter, consider these remedies:

1. Take it to a neutral party.

It's an age-old truth: The closer you are to a news story, the more likely you will find it flawed. Ask neutral parties to read, listen to or watch the story and give you feedback. You may be surprised to find that the message you hoped would get through did.

2. Talk to the reporter.

Reporters need sources, and good reporters are willing to hear their sources' objections. (They may not agree with you, but they usually listen.)

Remain polite regardless of the reporter's response. Reporters will react better to a discussion about factual errors than a differing opinion, but you're welcome to make your case if you believe his view lacks perspective. If the reporter got a key fact wrong, you're entitled to request a correction.

3. Write a response.

You may have forums to respond, such as a letter to the editor, op-ed or a website's comments section. Don't repeat the original errors in your response, since doing so gives those errors more airtime. Just articulate your view.

4. Speak to the editor.

If you can't get anywhere with the reporter, raise your objections with the reporter's boss. Who knows, you may be the fourth person to complain about the reporter this week.

There is a downside, though: No one likes to be complained about, and the reporter may take it out on you with even less favorable coverage.

5. Respond with statements.

If it's clear the news organization is irrevocably biased against your company, you have two choices:

1. Cut off all access.

2. Respond to subsequent inquiries with precision.

I usually recommend the latter, which means sending a short, written statement in response to queries. That brief statement prevents the reporter saying you refused to comment, and gives you more control over the quote.

6. Cut off all access.

The only time I recommend cutting off access is when you won't gain anything from speaking to the reporter. Those cases may exist, but they're rare. Good media management means finding a way to work with journalists—not avoiding them.

7. Use social media.

Cutting off a news outlet's access to your organization doesn't mean you stop communicating. Use your company website, blog and corporate social media to continue communicating with your key audiences.

This is an excerpt from Brad Phillips' new book, The Media Training Bible: 101 Things You Absolutely, Positively Need to Know Before Your Next Interview. Phillips is also the president of Phillips Media Relations, a media and presentation training firm, and blogs at Mr. Media Training.

Brad Phillips is president of Phillips Media Relations. Author, The Media Training Bible and the Mr. Media Training Blog.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Starting a Business

I Wish I Knew These Four Things Before Starting My Own Business

Starting a business is hard work to say the least. These are four lessons I wish someone had shared with me before going solo, so I'm here to share them with you.

Business Ideas

63 Small Business Ideas to Start in 2024

We put together a list of the best, most profitable small business ideas for entrepreneurs to pursue in 2024.


Add Some Life to the Office with $60 off This Bluetooth Speaker

This TREBLAB speaker provides 360-degree HD sound and high-powered connectivity.

Thought Leaders

Need More Confidence? These 10 Bestselling Books Will Help Improve Your Self-Esteem

Self-esteem can be hard to come by and even harder to maintain. To give yourself a boost, try these authors' words of wisdom.

Science & Technology

Brand New GPT-4o Revealed: 3 Mind Blowing Updates and 3 Unexpected Challenges for Entrepreneurs

Unveiling OpenAI's GPT-4.0: The latest AI with vision, auditory, and emotional intelligence abilities is revolutionizing industries. How will it affect your business?

Business Solutions

Organize Your Podcasts and Audio Content with This $40 Plan

Player FM lets you organize and sync podcasts across different platforms in one place.