By Steven Silvers -- How'd you like to slog off to work every morning knowing that your customers don’t trust you?
That sums up the life of local journalists, say two recent reports. And it influences how your local newspaper or TV Action News Team covers your company’s next crisis.
A Gallup Poll found that barely three out of every ten Americans trust what they see in the news. And on CareerCast’s 2016 list of the 200 worst jobs, newspaper reporter ranked dead last, with broadcasters taking bragging rights for being only the nation’s third-worst career. The annual list takes into account working environment, income, growth potential and stress factors.
Too many local reporters are overworked, underpaid and isolated in newsrooms that have neither time nor money to let them engage and understand the arenas they cover – especially the business world.
Too often this leads to a cynical world view that steers even talented business reporters down the path of least resistance, characterized by shallow controversy stories lacking accuracy or context, often giving equal weight to “contrasting” sources regardless of their actual lack of credibility.
For companies responding to complex crisis situations, this tired and formulaic approach to journalism can result in undeserved damage to their hard-earned reputation.
While it certainly doesn’t exist in every market, it’s important to anticipate this predisposition to fast-food local journalism, especially if your company’s crisis communications strategy is to speak with reporters.
The best way to prepare -- aside from knowing your facts, messaging and how to handle interviews -- is to deliver as much concrete, articulate information as possible. Dish it up on the proverbial silver platter in easily digestible portions.
A seasoned and solid journalist will appreciate the directness, which will help ensure an accurate story. And for the over-worked and disconnected reporter, the closer you approach “add water and stir,” the better the chances the resulting story will accurately represent your company's position. Quite often it’ll be included verbatim.
What’s happened to local journalism – and especially local business reporting – is tragic.
But it's reality. Today's lean media environment, with its ratings pressures and “pay by the click” compensation, forces too many local business reporters into being glorified stenographer-provocateurs looking for edgy, emotional conflict angles.
Be aware and ready.
>PR's Place in Modern Warfare