Since taking office, President Obama has made transparency the backbone of his communications efforts. According to Sherry Goldman, president of Goldman Communications Group, PR professionals must also follow this mandate when dealing with the media, particularly when it comes to the handling of contentious issues, such as the protracted union strike of the Writers Guild of America during the winter of 2007-08. Following are some ways to get your message out to a skeptical media and public:
• Be accessible and keep your message consistent: “We did not turn down any opportunities to be interviewed by the media,” Goldman says. “You need to do it consistently. You can’t be interviewed one week and hide the next.”
• Show passion and conviction: Don’t use glib, prefabricated sound bites that you can recite by rote. “We didn’t script [the writers] when they spoke to the media,” says Goldman. “Instead, we told the writers to say what was from their heart. That goes a long way.”
• Treat the media with respect: Remember what your mother told you? Treat people the way you would want to be treated. “They were given information [and updates],” she adds. “We tried to facilitate everything they wanted, and that helped.”
• Move fast: As with a crisis scenario, if you don’t react quickly, then somebody else will.