The Inside Word

In media relationships, risk equals untold reward

For a communications professional, there is possibly no harder assignment than an organisation with a strong risk-averse culture. Sticking to stringent policies and procedures is the only way to ensure an outcome. There is a right way of doing things, and there’s a wrong way.

Unfortunately, the environment that external communications professionals operate in is not so black and white. In the world of media relations – just like the world of public speaking – you need to be able to step outside your comfort zone to reap the biggest rewards.

Think of the time, if you’re lucky enough, when you bought your first house. It was a big decision surrounded by what-ifs – what if I lose my job, what if the market/economy tanks, what if I get an amazing job offer overseas, what if interest rates keep going up and up. Despite all these risks that can’t be addressed, the steady rise in property values never stops over the long term.

It is the same with any media campaign. Getting media traction means being prepared to take risks by stepping up to play with the heavy-hitting journalists who don’t accept everything they are told at face value.

They question everything. Because that is their job.

Even if you find the sweet spot in your press release that piques their interest, these journalists have their own interests at heart when they look for balance in a story. There is a possibility that the story may not go all your own way. There may be messaging in the resulting news story that you are not entirely happy with. But this is ok because this is not advertising.

People who consume news media will form their own opinions, and if your organisation is represented as one that is open, honest, relatable, and reasonable – it will be a win that can reap rewards that will regenerate in ways that you cannot envision right now.

Balanced media coverage is a tick of approval that helps consolidate your reputation in the market. And reputation is the gift that keeps on giving.

Trying to control the messaging and the risks too tightly when dealing with the media is only going to have the opposite effect.

Good media relationships require trust, understanding, and respect on both sides. The biggest risk to an organisation’s reputation comes from not understanding that.

The SAS Group is one of Australia’s foremost advisers on reputation protection and recovery. Contact us for advice on how to manage your most precious asset.

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