Grace Stanton Rieger/SR CrisisPR: Five Ways to Respond to Bad Press

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You can stop a bad story before it's published

"Not all bad press results from a crisis," according to SR CrisisPR CEO, Grace Stanton Rieger, whose firm specializes in crisis management for technology companies.

Sometimes a reporter gets the facts wrong, a columnist takes an unfavorable view of your political stance, or an arts critic disapproves of your museum’s new exhibit.

You can’t always respond to stories before publication, given that some run without advance notice. Most reporters will often ask for a comment or your perspective before the story runs, and their questions might indicate that they’ve drawn incorrect impressions. If you think you’re about to be the subject of bad press, consider these five actions:

1. Detail the errors.
Make a list of the reporter’s errors, and explain why the story is wrong. Provide the reporter with the accurate information, citing your sources.

2. Ask to meet with the reporter.
It’s disarming when a spokesperson asks to meet face to face. It sends a message that you have nothing to hide and could make reporters reconsider their perspectives.

3. Take it up a notch.
If you’re getting nowhere with the reporter, speak with his or her editor. That person bears greater responsibility for running accurate stories.

4. Get your lawyers involved.
You might be able to get a story delayed, revised, or killed if you can demonstrate to the news organization that it is factually incorrect and could lead to a costly lawsuit. Tread carefully when considering lawsuits against news organizations, as legal cases often attract more headlines and keep damaging information in the headlines that much longer.

5. Beat the press.
In extreme cases, you might consider releasing your story before the news outlet does. That might mean offering the story to a competing (and fairer) journalist or releasing it through your own social media channels. By beating the journalist to the story, you’ll be able to get your version of events out first and help control the narrative. But, beware...If you pursue this strategy, the reporter might punish you in future coverage.

About SR CrisisPR
SR Crisis PR prepares clients to handle communications during the toughest issues and crises. This practice is run by a core "war room" team whose members are expert at handling a variety of crisis communication scenarios and managing issues for high-profile organizations when their names and their brand reputations are on the line. Team members have experience inside the newsroom and the boardroom, as well as on the front lines, so we’re skilled at providing battle-tested crisis and issues management support to organizations large and small, even in the most trying circumstances.

We’ve helped companies prepare for, respond to, and recover from a wide variety of potentially damaging situations. Our crisis plans have proven highly effective, even under the closest scrutiny and in the brightest media spotlight, including reductions in force, customer campaigns, national media exposure, social media attack campaigns, product recalls, government interventions, security breaches, employee issues and executive or employee malfeasance.

Our crisis services include:

Content optimization
Crisis plan development
Media and message training
Media and social media monitoring
Online reputation management
On-the-ground crisis support
Strategic counsel
Third-party partnering
24-hour core team monitoring

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Grace Stanton Rieger
SR CrisisPR
+1 303-933-2626
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