PR book On-line Readings in Public Relations by Michael Turney
Working with the media:
Respond to the media
© 1998 Michael Turney Table of contents Practicing Public Relations main page About the author

"When reporters call, they want answers. Those who aren't around to answer and those who respond "no comment" are going to be portrayed and perceived differently than those who provide as much information as is feasible and appropriate."
-- Brad Hughes, former public information officer
Commonwealth of Kentucky

Responding to inquiries is the most critical element in media relations.

At the most basic level, being able to respond to the media means having someone who is accessible to reporters in case they ever have questions about the organization or its activities. It also means that these accessible spokespersons have to be informed enough to be able to provide prompt, accurate information and explanations that will satisfactorily answer those questions.

There are some organizations which, because of the nature of their business or the environment in which they operate, need to have a public relations spokesperson on-call 24 hours per day, seven days a week. They include medical centers where lives are at risk, airports and/or places that deal with hazardous materials where an accident could have major consequences, and correctional institutions and law enforcement agencies.

In contrast, there are other organizations which may be called upon to respond to the media less than once a year and which have a very low probability of ever being called by the media. They include small manufacturers, distributors and retailers of non-dangerous, staple household and business products. For them, being accessible requires minimal preparation and effort, and the extent of their media relations activity may be as little as periodically reminding the media of their public relations person's name and phone number.

Most organizations fall somewhere in between. And, most organizations would prefer to have more extensive and more favorable media coverage -- if not full blown media relations -- than they now have. The first step should always be having well-prepared, knowledgeable people ready and able to respond when the media call.

Even organizations which choose to engage in no other media relations efforts should at least have someone designated to respond promptly to media inquiries to avoid the possibility of being portrayed as non-responsive or secretive by the media.

Table of contents Return to
Working with the media
The second step:
Issue media advisories
The third step:
Visit and network
Practicing Public Relations main page
3 April 2011