Recently, Forbes India carried a so-called sensational story on Flipkart, a five-year-old fast-growing online retailer often touted as Amazon’s Indian equivalent. The story raised some serious concerns about Flipkart’s growth prospects and management challenges — something Flipkart believed was contrary to the opinions shared during the interview to the magazine. Result? The company’s CEO Sachin Bansal had to go defensive and write an open letter to the magazine, in a bid to clear the air around company’s negative image created in public eye.
So what exactly went wrong? What could have saved Flipkart from public embarrassment? What can we, as communicators, do to prevent such misrepresentations ? After all, communication is not what we say, it’s what is understood.
Here are 3 tips for handling media requests:
#1: Assess the business value of the request
Lack of advertising, declining readership, and increasing competition has put tremendous pressure on journalists and negatively impacted the quality of journalism. Journalists are hard pressed for time to check for accuracy and do less original writing, giving rise a new form of journalism—“churnalism.”
In such new media relations world , it becomes even more important to take in only those media requests that provide value to the organization.
- What media is it and who is the journalist? What’s their editorial line (looking for sensation or understanding)?
- What does the media want to learn about? Have they requested to interview specific employees?
CEC members, check out LEGO’s standardized media request process to learn more on how you can assess the strategic business value of a media request.
#2: Develop a media relations policy
Inconsistent and mismanaged communication can not only jeopardize an organization’s reputation but also have serious legal ramifications. Moreover, as organizations become increasingly global and local communication teams seek more authority, presenting a consistent voice externally has become a challenge. Here, a well-defined media relations policy that clearly lays down the principles to guide stakeholders’ decisions about what, how, and when to communicate, can go a long way in preventing crisis.
CEC members, check out International Paper’s media relations policy and get inspired.
#3: Train staff for handling media interactions
Creating an effective media relations policy is just half the battle won. Reinforce the policy through training sessions to sensitize employees about the importance of strategic communication. Provide targeted media training programs to company spokespersons to increase their fluency with policies and to better equip them for handling media interactions.
CEC members, here are the profiles of some media relations training providers , in case you need external help.
CEC Related Resources:
- Succeeding in the “New” Media Relations World
- Protect Your Reputation
- Media and Press Relations Specialist
- Managing Communications Across Global and/or Virtual Teams
CEC Related Blogs: