Building on the previous blog post by Peter Stanton that touched on the inadvertent disclosure that sometimes happens I began to wonder if the tools and technology we use in communications and public affairs contribute to an environment where professionals become hesitant to engage media.
Living in an age of 24-hour news cycles and growing social media reach has offered communications professionals a wealth of opportunities to place stories and generate conversations about clients’ interests that didn’t exist prior. As print media outlets continue to retrench in their struggle to find a place in an environment that favors digital communications, we aren’t as nearly dependent on that medium as we once were. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, microsites, and any number of new modalities exist for us to provide our information straight to the targeted audience.
But with these new communications channels comes the unfortunate (and growing) risk that a strategy memo, an unfortunately worded email, or an incorrectly targeted pitch can be splashed across the any number of websites, Twitter feeds and other media developed just to extend interest in the issue. No public relations firm and no single communicator wants to end up on The Bad Pitch Blog, but we can’t let that deter us from moving forward. Hope and desire won’t place the good story or stop the bad one. We need to engage actively. Nobody likes to be hung up on or hear “No” from a reporter, but that doesn’t mean we don’t pick up the phone and call. We do it because it serves our clients, makes us better, and, sometimes, we can turn “No” into “Yes”.
Public relations means just that, being public. To be successful means we have to take risks in the public domain. The client may be misquoted or that the competitors’ arguments and data may be more compelling are just two of the many reasons a media push can fail. It is our duty to mitigate those risks and move forward, but they are not reasons to fold up the tents and go home. If we, or our client, are too risk averse to go public with products, solutions, or messages then the competition is over and we, and our clients, have lost.