News releases can be like a bungee jump: Once the leap has started, there’s really no going back. You may feel somewhat jerked around and endure quite a bumpy ride if that news has gone out without proper permissions ahead of time.
In fact, the best solution is prevention. If you manage your organization’s PR, you need to be certain that the information in news releases is correct and all the parties involved have given their permission before the news is sent. If you work with a professional PR agency, it will already know that consent is essential ahead of time.
Sometimes this process doesn’t get carried out to completion, which can really burn a company’s reputation and have the public relations team scrambling to clean up the mess. It’s not uncommon for company leaders to tell their public relations firms to retract information that’s already been sent via email or newswire. They want the media outlets to pull back on their coverage or for the public relations teams to tell them not to run with a story they’ve already put into production.
Yet, it doesn’t really work that way. Here are some quick and very useful tips for how the PR information feed works:
As professionals in the PR industry, we know that if there is even a minuscule chance that a news release will need to be retracted, we don’t send it out. Look for a PR firm that feels the same way. Once a piece has gone out to online sources, you can let media contacts know of errors, but you won’t be able to fully overwrite the release.
Similarly, you can’t remove a news release from all the sites that have already picked it up and run with it online. A newswire – press release or news newswire – can’t have all of its affiliates and syndicates retract your story once it’s published.
Media outlets aren’t in the business of pretending something didn’t happen, even if it’s an error. Once it hits the newswire, the media may dig deeper and report on the situation at will.
The solution? Get written permission first from everyone involved, because no matter how badly you may want information in a release that’s already gone out to be retracted, it almost never is.
Speed is of the essence if a retraction is needed. Smart PR means notifying the media of any errors on the same day the release was sent. Keep in mind that once the information is uploaded to third-party sites, the administrators of those sites now own those words. It doesn’t matter if you wrote it. Once they have it up, what they decide to do with it is their call, not yours.
Speaking of ownership, media relations are, at their core, indeed relationships. This means information can be shared online or over the phone that seems completely casual and off the record. However, don’t think that because you said something to a media representative on the down-low that it won’t end up in a blog, article or TV spot. Remember that journalists have a responsibility to report what they know, so make sure what you’re telling them is in the best interest of your company and that any PR firm you work with bears the same philosophy.
Have you started a bungee jump with a news release that you just can’t stop? Contact Axia Public Relations. While we can’t always make a retraction happen, we do have some solid tools to help, such as shifting the news spotlight onto a different topic or story that you do want to speak about. We’re also experts at helping you follow the steps toward preventing news without consent from ever entering the online realm in the first place.
– Jason Mudd, APR, is CEO of Axia Public Relations. He is an Emmy-Award-winning accredited public relations practitioner, speaker, author and entrepreneur. His public relations portfolio includes work for established national and emerging brands such as American Airlines, Budweiser, Dave & Buster’s, Brightway Insurance, Florida Blue, H&R Block, Hilton, HP, It Works! Global, Miller Lite, New York Life, Pizza Hut, Ray Charles, Southern Comfort, Verizon and more. Connect with Jason at @jasonmudd9 and Axia Public Relations at @axiapr. Be sure to tweet and share your thoughts below. We’ll read and respond to each of them.