There are two common misconceptions about the media that are all-too-commonly offered by incident management teams as a reason for not talking to them.
The first is that the media won’t be interested in their organisation, either because it’s not a household name or because they think that their problems wouldn’t be particularly newsworthy.
The second is that if they avoid the media they’ll go away and leave them alone.
Unfortunately, they’re likely to be spectacularly wrong on both counts.
As regards the first point, the reality is that it’s the media, not the crisis-struck organization, that gets to decide whether a story is newsworthy or not.
On the second point, that might actually be partly right – at least for a while. The trouble is that while they’re ‘away’ the media are unlikely to be leaving you alone. They’re more likely to be talking to someone else – quite probably someone with a different agenda to yours, who’s more than happy to share their thoughts with a media hungry for an interesting sound bite or two.
The point here is that if the media take an interest in you a strategy of ignoring them probably isn’t a particularly sensible one.
And in any case, why wouldn’t you take the opportunity to put your side of the story across, to comunicate with your key audiences, to show concern and show that you’re in control?
To quote Mr C.Northcote Parkinson “The vacuum caused by a failure to communicate is soon filled with rumour, misrepresentation, drivel and poison”.
In other words, trying to avoid the media when they’re looking for a story is unlikely to be one of your better decisions.