January 4, 2013
What do you do when your organization, or you for that matter, becomes the subject of negative news media reports? There are many ways to counter negative media reports, including ignoring them. Remember the old adage about never picking a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel and paper by the ton? That was probably good advice in the days when newspapers were the dominant media, but that is no longer the case.
Today’s updated advice comes from Sharyl Attkisson, a CBS News investigative correspondent based in Washington, who has an excellent blog post for anyone who desires to influence negative media. Although there are pros and cons to each of her Top 10 Ways to Influence Negative Media, her blog is a worthy read for anyone who ever has occasion to deal with negative media. Below is the abbreviated version of her list. Each is explained in her blog.
1. Exploit Social Media
When news reporters publish factually correct but potentially damaging stories, use pseudonyms to set up accounts on social media such as Facebook and Twitter to promulgate your propaganda.
2. Attack the Messenger
When you’ve found it impossible to discredit the story because it’s accurate and fair, do “opposition research” on the reporter. Dig for professional and personal dirt.
3. Employ Third Parties
Don’t deny the facts yourself: People may disregard that. Instead, use trusted – paid – third parties to write letters to editors for newspapers, do TV interviews and offer up opinions without disclosing their conflicts of interest .
4. Appeal to the Fringe
Remember, with the web, anybody can publish. Exploit that!
5. Enter Wikiland
Because it has no oversight or appeal body, Wikipedia is a rich resource for your propaganda and spin. The beauty is, you can write false or skewed information and prevent others from changing it!
6. Label the “Mouthpiece”
When a reporter has found a solid source that you can’t seem to discredit or stop, one who’s providing truthful but harmful information about your agency or business, accuse the reporter of being a “mouthpiece” for the source.
Turn Freedom of Information (FOI) law on its head and use it to help you hide information rather than disclose it. When a reporter asks for material under FOI, tell him he’s got to go to the end of a long, long line.
8. Open the Floodgates
When you don’t want to do an interview, but want to spin the reporter, flood him with reams of useless information, press releases, emails and articles.
The flipside of “Opening the Floodgates”: When things look so bad that there’s nothing you can do to coat it with sugar, and you don’t want to talk to the reporter, just ignore his calls and requests.
10. Use Charities and Non-Profits to Disguise
The charity world is one of great potential for your PR propaganda because there’s relatively little disclosure and oversight.