Friday, February 25, 2011

Importance of Getting it Right

In a recent conversation with a former journalist for a Singapore main stream newspaper, the journalist agreed with my research findings that it was imperative that a company's crisis communication plan include an Internet presence.  This is because anything published on the Internet will be cached and remain available indefinitely.

The former journalist cited his professional experience where media like radio and television almost never issue corrections, while newspapers did.  This he attributed to the "permanency" of the medium.  In the case of radio and television, new (and correct) news would "replace" the older wrong one, while in the case of newspaper, once a story is published, it would remain "correct" unless otherwise corrected.

This need for clarification is even more critical in new media as powerful search engines will display all relevant information indexed for the ease of the reader.  Hence, without a clarification, or a deliberate attempt to get the company's side of the story out, future readers may get the wrong impression.

To me, the key take-away for PR Professionals is this.

As PR Professionals, we must always ensure that journalists publish an accurate story about the company we represent.  We however need to prioritise the importance of each medium and give it the appropriate attention.  In the case of less permanent media, we must be pro-active upfront to ensure that the journalists gets the story straight.  However, once a mistake has been made, we should request a clarification (for legal record), but then not lose any sleep if the news agency does not issue a correction.  In the case of more permanent media, we can be less pro-active upfront, but once an error is detected, we need to strongly pursue the publication of a clarification to set the record straight.

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