Do You Have a Media Relations Policy?Resource Government
March 15, 2013 — 970 views
“All publicity is good publicity.” While this saying might be true for musicians, actors, authors, and producers, bad publicity is always a bad thing. Government executives and organizations like to keep a low profile in the news. This is to prevent unwarranted public scrutiny. Therefore, it is important that government agencies have a media relations policy in place, which describes how the organization and its employees interact with the media.
The public always has an eye on the media for news. Therefore, when the media uncovers a story that depicts an agency in a bad light, it will affect the opinion of the public. Though informed citizens are often skeptical of the media, some people blindly follow what the media says. The impact of the media on the opinion of the public depends on the reach and audience's characteristics. Bad press can kill favorable opinion among the general public, and therefore, government agencies should build up a bit of good will.
That being said, even though bad press has farther reach, stories of the positive nature can improve the perceptions of the general public. All the government employees need to do is their jobs. Public information officers and agency executives are burdened with promoting good stories and answering questions raised about the bad stories. Favorable opinion can bring supporters who can be influential when lobbying lawmakers and influencing citizens through their opinions.
Opinion of elected officials
Bad press leads to questions being asked by the legislators. The public holds them accountable through elections, so they need to be aware of the thinking and feeling of their constituents. When a negative story hits the news, these legislators will want to have the exact information that has been provided to the media. If they are caught by surprise, they will ask for information that is more detailed. If it is bad enough, the legislators will summon the leaders of the agency for committee hearings to bring the truth out and show that the legislators are addressing the situation.
However, if the agency is always in the news for all the right reasons, legislators are more likely to give the executives freedom to work in their own way as they place a higher level of trust in the executives. Agencies that seem to conduct themselves professionally or do not waste money tend to be left to their own devices most of the time.
Effect on Agencies
Agencies generating positive stories will be rewarded with the benefit of the doubt by the elected officials. The benefit of this trust comes when it is time for funding. When good things are in the news about an agency, it will maintain its funding and will find a more open ear to its future requests. Nevertheless, constant bad press will bring pointed questions from lawmakers and a difficulty to obtain more funding. Benefit of the doubt can mean that the agency can think big, whether it is in terms of confidence in approaching the elected officials, or whether it is in terms of funding.
Bad Press Leads to More Bad Press
Once the media gets its hand on a juicy story, they try to squeeze every drop from it. To keep it fresh, follow-up stories are written with rehashed details and pieces of new information until every detail is unearthed or the public stops caring. This is why a very comprehensive media relations policy is recommended on every level of the agency’s employment structure.