Crisis PR: Media, Public Relations & Reputation Management

Public Relations: professionals have to saddle a difficult tight walk – Serving clients who pay our bills, and satisfying the media who we usually have to convince to write about our clients. This is a delicate balance, and sometimes PR agencies are hired to keep our clients out of the media or deflect negative stories.

Clients’ often hire us to protect them from the media, much as they would hire an attorney to protect them. A: video: making the rounds on-line, and attracting controversy is a video of an ABC San Francisco Reporter, and a PR representative for: Laguna Honda Hospital — Universally the PR pro is being condemned and attacked, and I disagree.

Watch the video, and consider the following:

  • The Reporter stands directly in the path of: the shorter woman as she enters the room, and again as she tries to leave the room
  • Using a camera as their bully pulpit, the Reporter disrupts a planned meeting and follows the woman throughout the room, and the facilities as if he owns the facilities.

If someone repeatedly stood in front of you in your place of work so that you had to walk around, what would you make of it? Additionally, both before the meeting and after, the Reporter uses his loud voice to talk over the woman, forcing her to repeat herself seven times that she is not available for an interview.

The PR pro was doing his job, didn’t raise his voice and in my eyes did all he can to deflect the attention to himself rather than core issues. The spokesperson is clearly an annoyance to the Reporter who clearly doesn’t like it, and in the end, he seems to have shut down the reporters’ planned ambush (and doesn’t the Reporter have a certain haughtiness to him?)

The spokesperson seemed to be protecting his staff (similar to how a good attorney would), and I for one fail to understand why one assumes that the media has the right to question people, and destroy lives as they see fit. Do people not have the right to “defend” themselves?

A completely separate controversy now surrounds the musical artist: M.I.A., who was: profiled: by The New York Times Magazine, and she subsequently tweeted to her 111,000 followers the journalists’ cell phone number to express her displeasure at the Reporters’ clearly negative story.

Wow, this is harsh clearly, and one can understand why M.I.A isn’t happy with the story. I’d ask why they did an interview regarding these issues? What was the artist trying to accomplish (i.e. being featured in The NY Times isn’t always good), and I’d have suggested if they are concerned about the issues raised in this story, why do the interview with the journalist that wrote a very: harsh article on Courtney Love: which stirred up quite a bit of controversy ?

Wasn’t there a safer journalist to turn to? Clearly this article will do quite a bit of lasting damage, and have they any proof that the article is biased? Did they record the interview on their own? (As we often do if we are entering sensitive interview ground)? If they did, they could then release interview segments showing its inaccurate? I’d also ask if they claim it’s not accurate, did they record any parts of the interview? Have any segments they can release showing its inaccurate? When dealing in the world of crisis communications, consider taping interviews (and many more tips should be considered.

Understandably, the journalist: Lynn Hischberg called MIA’s tweets: “Fairly Unethical” and “Infuriating”,: and one can understand why, but am sure many will see a tone in the article (“truffle-flavored fries”)?… but M.I.A. clearly misstepped.

Ronn Torossian: is President & CEO of: 5WPR: ( , one of the 25 largest independent: PR firms: in the US. Named one of the top “40 Under 40” by PR Week & Advertising Age, Torossian was a semi-finalist for Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, and his PR agency works with a roster of iconic brands.

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