One of the most important things you can do is to look for and read articles about your organization or business, checking to make sure the tone, message, and facts are correctly represented. If you are incorrectly represented, you have every right to ask the agency to modify the article. You wouldn’t believe how many times I have read an article about our organization that portrays a completely different message than what we intended to give.
Why should you care?
Your reputation is on the line… Reputation is everything for your business or organization. Your product or service should be more desirable than that of your competition. In the case of law enforcement or other public service entities, it is respect and trust from the community. If you have these things, you will be successful and supported. You need to know what people are saying about your business.
What really happens?
Checking the message, tone, and facts will help you protect your reputation or help you realize that you have a problem that needs fixing. You have the right to ask any agency to fix an article, but they also have the right to leave it the way it was written to voice their opinion on the subject. This might help you realize that changes need to be made in your organization. Most of the time, however, the media is trying to get as many people as they can to consume their material over that of competing agencies. This leads to twists in the story, tapping into emotions, and promoting internal values or themes. More often than not, the media is not trying to misrepresent you. They are trying to be unique and get people to read their article. The original message, tone, and facts can be lost without them noticing. By simply contacting the author/reporter of the article and explaining how you were misrepresented, you allow them the chance to see your point of view and change the message to align with yours. Don’t get me wrong, the media is not always innocent in misrepresenting the original source. It happens all the time. Promoting their values and opinions is very important to them.
The majority of the time, you will be able to get the news agencies to work with you and correct anything that needs to be corrected. Learning to work together with the media can be a challenge, but don’t let that stop you. A mutualistic relationship with your local news agencies will save you problems in the future and can increase your reputation, resect and support from the community.
How do you accomplish this?
My next post will cover this with specific examples.