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5 tips for dealing with bad news

The recession brought a flood of bad news for businesses and small businesses can find themselves suddenly thrust into the media glare, frequently in a negative light. You may feel out of their comfort zone and unsure how to respond. Here we tell you how to protect your business and reputation when the media comes calling.

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The recess0ion has brought a flood of bad news for businesses and small businesses can find themselves suddenly thrust into the media glare, frequently in a negative light. You may feel out of their comfort zone and unsure how to respond. Here we tell you how to protect your business and reputation when the media comes calling.

1. Understand the media

You should recognise the value and importance of media management. It has to come from the top; from you, the boss. No business can escape the threat of negative publicity. All organisations have good news and bad news. The challenge is to handle the media effectively.

2. Take professional advice

If you don't have experience of the media, you will need to bring in an expert. A good PR firm will be able to advise senior management on drafting and implementing a media strategy and all aspects of media relations.

3. Deal with bad news

Bad news must be dealt with quickly and it is vital your side of the story is heard, so don't bury your head in the sand. You can't stop the media presenting both sides of the argument, so don't think it is unfair if they do. It is the media's job to impartially present both sides. However, the media must be accurate and most newspapers, radio and TV stations will be committed to a balanced reporting of the facts.

This is particularly the case with local papers, which want to be seen as being at the heart of the community. You can ensure reporting is accurate by talking to journalists and giving them proper briefings. Failure to correct inaccuracies, and failure to explain your position, risks your firm being pilloried. Bad press in turn leads to a damaged reputation, which could be disastrous for your business.

4. Complain

If the media gets it wrong, tell them and demand a story setting the record straight, but don't fall out with them. Simply present your complaint in a robust manner. Explain that you see the importance of the media and you want to have a good relationship, but it is vital they get their facts right and that you are always willing to speak to reporters to ensure that happens. Surprisingly, the media does not get many complaints and all are usually dealt with as a matter of importance. Again, a PR firm will be experienced at this and should be able to guide you on managing this process.

5. Promote positive news

Astute businesses respect the media and its ability to inform opinions, for better or worse. Look around you and see how the media is crammed with organisations and products promoting themselves.

Harnessing the media's power to communicate to massive audiences is hugely valuable. Just as good publicity is essential to the careers of actors, musicians and politicians, so it is to a small firm.

Tell the media about your successes, your new clients, deals, products, services and staff. A well organised PR firm will be able to prepare press releases which communicate this information in a news format that journalists will expect and respect. Critically providing you target the media your customers and clients consume you will win business and grow your reputation – and that's definitely good news. 

About the author

Ben Pinnington, is a director of North West based PR and design firm Artemis. For more information visit www.artemismedia.co.uk or email ben@artemismedia.co.uk.

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