Today's headlines across the world are filled with examples of bad media relations practices. From lying to spying, American companies and politicians at the highest levels are behaving appallingly and unprofessionally toward the media. A good media relationship is a blessing and a joy for any company, but it isn’t always easy to walk the straight and narrow.
When companies plan their media outreach initiatives, we should keep in mind these four commandments of media relations:
1. Thou Shall Not Lie to Reporters
“Honesty is hardly ever heard, but mostly what I need,” croons Billy Joel. The media would concur with this sentiment. While companies are not required to disclose all internal business to the press, it is wise to present only the facts. Embellishing the truth may get a company press, but it’s just not worth the risk of becoming branded as an unethical company.
2. Thou Shall Not Commit Illegal Acts or Acts of Bad Behavior
Needless to say, committing illegal acts or acts of bad behavior is just poor business from the get-go. On top of the obvious legal worries, companies behaving badly should also be concerned about media scrutiny that would destroy not only the company’s reputation but also the reputations of the company’s leaders. It can simply be said that by practicing good business ethics, companies can operate without fear of that kind of bad press.
3. Thou Shall Not Spy on Reporters
Leave the spy games to James Bond and respect a reporter’s privacy. The potential media scandal of spying on reporters would leave a company with an infamous legacy. Not only will the media look upon the company with distrust, but the press will brand the company with the dreaded reputation-killer – dishonesty. Do your company a favor and limit your media outreach to sound public relations best practices.
4. Thou Shall Not Practice Hyperbole
Hyperbole is the art of exaggeration, which under all PR circumstances, should be avoided at all times. Over promising what a company or product is capable of may sound like a good idea to create good press. But heaven forbid that a company cannot walk the walk despite talking the talk. Betray the media’s trust once, and it will be extremely difficult to regain it. So make sure that your company spokesperson does not make any extra embellishments to the company messages the next time he or she speaks to the media.
Remember these four commandments of good PR practices and your company will no doubt enjoy a successful, productive relationship with important media in the years to come.