In a memo sent out to staff at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency in January, the Trump Administration has prohibited press releases, social media postings, blog posts or new content placed on the agency’s website.
I’m a big fan of this policy.
Not only do I think, as a media agency, we’ve worked for several organizations who should have put this out to all departments (it would have saved some heartache for some them), but it just makes sense.
I’ve just come back from teaching a crisis communications lecture, where students very effectively showed that many a company CEO has led their organization to crisis (at the very least, a loss of revenue) by talking about their personal stance on something and it being represented as from the company.
Let’s take Dan Cathy (president of Chick-fil-A) and his comments against LGBT rights. It led to loss of traffic for Chick-fil-A (which continues today despite a damn tasty chicken sandwich) and several new restaurants (notably on University Campuses) that never opened.
It’s near impossible for a CEO to talk to any media outlet and not represent the organization that CEO leads.
Back to politics for a moment. This isn’t the first instance of a government agency being told to cease social media postings or communications in the new Donald Trump presidency. During Trump’s inauguration, the National Park Service retweeted two posts teasing Trump about his inauguration crowd size and hitting the administration for deleting references to climate change.
Dude! If this was any professional business, heads would be rolling. There is no instance when one sub-department or rogue employee should be teasing the CEO of a business on social media. So, as PR pros we must make sure this is not possible.
So, I say, all press releases should be banned. Let’s face it, it’s a lazy tool that good PR pros just don’t need. There is no instance today that needs blanket press releases sent out, when a dedicated team couldn’t reach out personally to multiple press contacts to get the story right. I know you think I’m off my rocker or joking, but seriously, media relations needs some relations that are personal – not mass market. Leave that to advertising.
Next up, no one – no one at all – should be speaking to the media, unless cleared and managed by a senior PR person representing (I don’t care if it’s in house or through an agency) the organization. Today, there is too much at stake. Seriously – no one. Not the founder, not the owner (in fact especially not those two), not any person.
We need to wake up and smell the digital communication highway. Founders and CEO’s are brilliant people, but that doesn’t make them brilliant at the nuances of media spokesperson. Yes, they can be very desirable as their quirky, entrepreneurial, shoot from the hip, style makes them very quotable. But there is a lot at stake. One wrong soundbite and it can be echoed around the world and back again leading to considerable financial loss.
So that’s my drive for 2017. Ban press releases and tighten control so no one can speak to the press unless it can be controlled by a media pro.
Anyone with me?