I stirred the pot recently back when I made a Facebook comment about how I wasn’t surprised when the courts reinstated CNN reporter Jim Acosta’s White House press credentials. In fact, I was shocked it took as long as it did.
The whole event stands as a great example for organizations on what NOT to do for when dealing with what they believe to be an adverse press environment. The way in which the Trump administration dealt with it is exactly the wrong playbook. All they did was make it worse.
Now let’s say for a moment that Jim Acosta overstepped his bounds. That still doesn’t mean you pull his credentials. You can simply stop the press conference, say thank you very much and move on.
Engaging the media in a Crisis PR event is important, and I would suggest an essential element. But it’s just one. There are other ways organizations should go about getting their message told. Social media, email newsletters, pay-per-click advertisements and town hall meetings to connect with employees, customers, investors and other stakeholders are equally important.
Even if you believe that you’re not getting a fair shake with the press, don’t get into a pissing contest. It’s just not going to end well. They’ll just keep coming at you because they feel you’re hiding something. Remember the two goals in a crisis PR situation is to embolden your base to stay with you, while at the same time, diffuse some of the tension with the opposition. You’re not necessarily trying to convince them that your side is the right course of action, but you’re trying to get them to quiet down on their side.
When you get into an argument with a reporter, you embolden their side as much as yours. That puts you in a virtual street fight and continue the news cycle. A Crisis PR event can cost a company, on average, $500,000 in lost productivity, lost revenue and lost brand recognition. Arguing with a reporter only increases that amount, and ultimately does you no service. Remember that the next time you feel like you’re in an adverse press environment.