Reputational risk in leaving media to chance

Many a motivational quote has been uttered about the word reputation.
For one, celebrated US investor Warren Buffett is often quoted as saying:
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
When it comes to corporate communications and reputation management, the media can play a vital role.
Transferable media interview skills
Corporate affairs and media relations veteran Stewart Murrihy believes the role that media can – and should – play, as part of a sound corporate communication strategy, provides various benefits for a business.
Critically, says Murrihy, the skills developed in media training are transferable to other stakeholder settings.
“A benefit of training is less so much about dealing with the media but the process you go through is valuable in terms of communicating with any stakeholders.
“Media training makes you analyse what you need to communicate, to distil it down for the people you want to communicate with.
“Then you start to develop your message from the perspective of your audience. It’s not the media you want to be talking to but the people who read the media,” Murrihy adds.
Reputation management
Increasingly over the past two decades, business leaders have embraced the opportunity to deal directly with their audiences, rather than communicate specifically through the media.
However, despite technologies and channels such as the Internet, social media and mobile devices providing a direct conduit to the market, Murrihy says there is still a big role for the media today.
“There are certain groups that you want to communicate with via the media; for example, retail investors around the half-year and full-year results.
“There’s a lot of key messaging around this that’s focused on retail investors,” he says.
Furthermore, the media can serve as a filter or feedback channel, especially if things go wrong or certain agendas come into play, providing you with valuable insights on how to respond.
“If something appears in the press – for example, something that’s negative – it’s a result of your failure to communicate with your stakeholders,” says Murrihy.
“Also, the media can be a source of information for you, and vice versa; for instance, the business media will be talking to a range of other people and organisations. So it’s important to maintain a positive relationship with the press.”
Another benefit of developing media skills is recognising that different sections of the media will pursue different agendas.
That may also change the way you respond. You’ll speak in one particular voice to the financial press but it will be a very different response to a tabloid television current affairs program.
“The bottom line is having good media interview skills will help enhance your reputation,” Murrihy concludes.
 Was your last media interview a success? Share your experiences (anonymity guaranteed) with us by email or submit your questions and we will address them in future blogs.
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