By Mark G. Auerbach
I write this combining two perspectives, one as a working member of “the media,” and two, as a public relations and marketing professional. These days, there’s a divide between those two worlds.
Whether you’re a fan of the new Trump administration or not, there are lessons to be learned from the last few tumultuous weeks, whether you’re in the media, or working with the media to get your message out to your market.
First of all, the media is not “the enemy,” as it’s been tweeted and told by the nation’s new CEO, and all media do not put out “fake news.” The role of the media is to find the truth and share it with their audience. The public demands that. “Fake news” exists, but smart people choose their news sources carefully. Forbes analyzed some of the current news sources.
Imgur also posted an infographic called “Fight Fake News.”
Remember that some media carries a bias, and if they’re credible, they’ll be up front about it. If you follow the news generated by Mercy for Animals, an organization I applaud, they’re all about humane treatment of animals, and more so, helping their audience become vegan. You wouldn’t be reading their materials for healthier pork recipes. It’s a matter of common sense.
And when you think about it from a business perspective, if you aren’t truthful with the media, and you send spokespeople out who aren’t credible, and the media discovers that and reports on it, they become your enemy, not the public’s.
As a business owner, you need the media to get your product or service in front of the public. Good media sources pride themselves in being honest and checking their facts. Select carefully which media you’re going to forge relationships with, and build a strong relationship. Being adversaries isn’t a good approach and is unlikely to get you the results you want.
Second, your business should want to project an honesty that your clients and customers demand. Your spokespeople must be honest and believable. Your CEO can project the charm; your spokesperson backs up the charm with facts. If your message and your behavior don’t have integrity, it’s not going to work.
Sean Spicer and Kellyanne Conway, despite their extreme loyalty to their boss and his governmental business interests, don’t represent the kind of voices that best suit business, even though they’re great for the pundits and the satirists. His demeanor puts the press on edge; she, although very crafty, turns the media around in circles. A Vox report analyzed her technique.
The public is smart. They demand truth. If they don’t get it from your business, they’ll find it elsewhere.
Third, many people believe that any publicity from any source is good for business. It’s true that when a media source says something positive about your company or your brand, it’s considered an unbiased endorsement–something much different than the information you’re putting out there in your advertising efforts. That’s true to a point. Some news sources have more credibility than others, in the global arena and in the local marketplace.
When it comes to the media and your message, honesty pays off, and so does a good relationship with the media who can take your message to the masses. And when you have a cordial, professional relationship with the media, they get the true story they want, and you get a story that’s good for your business.
Mark G. Auerbach is principal at Mark G. Auerbach Public Relations, a Springfield, MA, based marketing, public relations, development and events consultancy. You can find more information about Mark at Facebook and LinkedIn.