Telling all Your News?

If not, expect additional scrutiny and a story with legs

There are few things more painful than trying to weather a “bad-news” story involving your business, especially when the story has “legs.” That is jargon for a story that just does not want to go away. Poorly managed bad news distracts management attention, paralyzes business operations, destroys morale and makes your media relations staff want to shut off the phones and turn off their pagers. Just ask them.

I have a sure way of allowing your bad news to grow legs in the media:  Don’t tell all of it. Let it dribble out, and do so only when cornered. I do not advise this strategy, but I see it. The Wall Street Journal wrote about one Colorado company living it.

I counsel just the opposite: Be transparent. If you have bad news to report, develop a plan to get it out, all at once. It’s good business strategy, earns credibility and your stakeholders, including the press, respect that type of behavior.

Question: Is your business news transparent? If not, why not? Wall Street loves clarity.

A bad-news story with legs subjects your firm, employees and shareholders to the drip, drip, drip of prolonged media scrutiny and public pain. Now, the ability to tell bad news is not amateur hour.  So, bring in the expertise needed to do it right. I’ve just never seen a CEO convince me why subjecting a company to extended, negative media attention is the right thing to do.

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