Afraid of the Media?

Do you close your eyes and hold your breath when you open your company Twitter feed? Are you frustrated by seemingly inconsequential gossip about your company replacing substantive news about the good things that you are doing? Do you blame the media and grumble about the ethics of the “24-hour news cycle”?

Well, stop grumbling and do something about it.

In the world of today we are bombarded with constant information. A small story appears on Facebook, is flung around the world on Twitter and disappears again in ½ an hour, leaving a trail of doubt and innuendo in its wake. To most in the corporate communications industry, this is terrifying. Excellent teams accustomed to interacting with ethical journalists requiring two sources to publish are now confronted with rumor and gossip rendered gospel. With the exception of professional Public Relations and Communications companies trained and experienced in handling these situations, most businesses – and governments – take one of two paths in response to negative news: they either go into hiding, or they engage in a public battle.

At ProDigna we believe that both of these responses are counterproductive. Based on our values of transparency, openness and good business practices, we believe that the communications teams of today should be concentrating on building trust with their customers, clients, and indeed the media itself, through careful and productive messaging.  If a communications team has been successfully sending positive messages to the public, one small negative message is not going to have much impact. Even a larger negative news story will be less believable – or important – to the public, if the company has managed to establish trust in advance, through transparent and positive messaging.

We are not talking here about “spin.” What we propose is quite simple: YOU tell your story, as often and as engagingly as possible. If you do it well, and are able to convey your reasons for doing business, your goals for your employees and society at large, then the public will forgive you nearly anything. Think of your company as that person who you know well, who is a good person and tries to do the right thing, and then admits when they are wrong. You like and trust that person, and would defend your friend to anyone. You need to make your company into that person.

So how do you do that? First – the story. All people think in stories, in narratives. We have a narrative for ourselves and our personal development including our background (“I grew up in a small town…”), challenges we have faced (“I broke my leg in college and my professional football career was finished”) and accomplishments (“I now run my own company”). The first step is to discover your company’s narrative. This can be an excellent exercise for your senior management and if you are an entrepreneur it is crucial.  What is the story of your company? Make it human, relatable, believable, TRUE. Then you start the process of communicating this narrative so that the public feels like they know who your company is and what it stands for. More about this in a future post, but for today – What’s your story?

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