Media relations

D is for denial

The A to Z of media relations
Supported by Unicepta

In the main, most PRs do not tend to deny stories even if they are wrong, preferring instead to hide behind the ‘no comment’ excuse. They do so because it is a safer strategy. PRs who constantly deny incorrect stories find themselves in a hole when the journalist finally calls with a real, live scoop. What do they say? It may not be appropriate to confirm its veracity, particularly if the issue is sensitive, such as job losses – which most companies would rather tell their employees about before the news appears in the media.

Also, having a policy of denying incorrect stories open PRs up to the dangers of fishing expeditions. For example, if a company is poised to appoint a new chief executive, then journalists will just keep putting forward the names of potential candidates – hoping that a change in tone or reply reveals the correct answer.

Some PRs do, however, abuse the denial strategy. They take the view that if a journalist is missing part of a story, or perhaps has an incorrect detail, it is perfectly in order to issue a denial of the whole shebang. They are being pedantic. And they are misusing their power. Journalists tend not to forget PRs who have behaved like this.