Reacting to a Negative or Inaccurate Media Story

I spent almost an hour with a major market newspaper reporter on the phone. I gave her what I felt was great information and even provided additional sources to contact. When the article was actually published, the headline was very controversial and our company got virtually no coverage. What was included about our company I felt was showing us in a bad light. What can I do?

By Jennifer Manocchio

First, before answering the question, it is important to note most reporters do not write their own headlines. A different editor is tasked with writing headlines for the story. Sometimes this can create a disconnect, which is likely what you experienced. Therefore, do not come down too hard on the reporter for the controversial headline.

Secondly, just because a reporter speaks with you for a substantial amount of time does not mean you are guaranteed ink. Reporters, including online and print, are looking for short and succinct quotes that help tell their story. So the more you offer in terms of usable material, the more likely you will be included in the story. Also, the reporter could have included quotes from you, but they were removed by his or her editor.

The good news is there are a few actions you can take that could result in additional, positive coverage for your company.

1. Write a letter to the editor. Writing a letter to the editor allows you to clearly state your point about the article in your own words. If the topic or story is controversial enough, you have a pretty good opportunity of getting your letter to the editor published.

However, do not attack the reporter or the publication directly. This will not help your brand image and usually will not be printed. Rather explain constructively why you disagree with the story using solid points.

2. Contact the reporter and explain why you disagree with the story. Again, provide beneficial and concrete feedback. If you have enough good information to share with the reporter, he or she just might write a follow-up story.

The bottom line is feel free to share your feedback with the publication and reporter, but do it in a professional way that does not burn bridges.

Need support with publicity and media relations? Contact me at jennifer at sweeneypr.com or 910.772.1688.

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