Isn’t It Your PR Job to Be Available?

by PR Coach on June 24, 2012

New NBC website planned

Declining to comment is bad PR

Politico writer Dylan Byers, recently posted about NBC News’ plans to launch its own website NBCNews.com. Makes sense with the US election looming and the need to brand itself distinctly from the long-established MSNBC.com. But that wasn’t what caught my PR eye.

It was Byers’ comment on the TV network’s PR contacts that jumped out at me:

“NBC News Communications director Amy Lynn declined to comment. Gina Stikes, MSNBC.com’s PR director, could not be reached.”

I’m sorry. Declined to comment? Couldn’t be reached? Isn’t it your PR job to comment and be reachable by the media? Fortunately, the unnamed new “press representative and brand manager” was available and at least commented about her new role.

I’m not singling out NBC’s PR department. Just illustrating a point. This happens too often. Every day you see or hear the comment in the media about PR people and their senior management: “unavailable to comment.” Then,  anger at the resulting coverage because it was inaccurate, wrong, negative or favored their competitor.

This is a reminder to all PR people and anyone who could benefit from media coverage.

Remember four simple media relations and social media tips:

  • Create relationships
  • Be prepared
  • Be available
  • Be SCAP: short, concise, active and positive in your remarks when you get the opportunity.

I wonder if PR people sometimes forget building media relationships is important. The media aren’t the enemy. Or maybe if you’re the media, maybe the other media are the enemy?

It’s ironic NBC News overall has never branded itself online. I’ve never understood that strategy.

The other irony? Here’s a planned new website and when you click on the NBCNews.com url it immediately redirects you to MSNBC.com. No landing page welcome. No “We’re excited about our plans” or “Coming soon.” No explanation at all.

C’mon people. It’s social media. I could have a landing page up in five minutes. No wonder traditional media is struggling with the impact of the internet. And you’ll want to update and upgrade your Twitter and Facebook pages too.

CNN and citizen journalism

If you need some inspiration NBC, just look over at CNN.com where it’s well-integrated online. With its one million iReporters and iReport blog, you’ve got a long way to go to catch up.

When you are ready to announce your new website, I hope it’s got some great features and that you’ll be taking media calls.

How much of your job is media relations? Is that role shrinking? Has social media changed your media relationships? I welcome your comments below.

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Author:
Jeff Domansky
APR is a PR and social PR strategist. He blogs at The PR Coach and you can also follow him on Twitter @theprcoach or Scoop.it (PR 2.0 Insight).

Visual: NBC News