They’re still doing it! Corporations are still saying no comment, or worse yet, not being available for comment. I just did a Google news search for both “no comment” and “not available for comment” and found pages of recent examples of both.
No-commenters included the TNA Wrestling Association, the German Economic Ministry, New York Police Union, New York Racing Authority and Hicks Sports Group, among many others.
- Those unavailable for comment included Whirlpool, a Michigan school district, several Indian ministries, the South Korean government and the head of the Minneapolis Labor Federation, among many others
Those people should just stop not talking. Not talking to the news media today is a bad business move. Whenever a reporter calls an organization, that organization has a golden opportunity to enhance its reputation and say something it wants to say to people to whom it wants to say it.
And when the news is bad, the news media are giving the organization the means to defend itself or give its point of view. The news media are likely going to report the bad news no matter what. In most cases it will be in the organization’s best interest to tell its side of the story.
Even if you can’t give a comment because the subject is confidential or related to a lawsuit, you can at least tell why you can’t comment. When you say “no comment,” the organization comes off as secretive. But when you say why you can’t comment, you evoke empathy, because most people intuitively understand that sometimes constraints exist. They just want to know what the constraints are.
Sometimes the news media will call with what they think is bad news, but which really isn’t. By responding with accurate information, the organization can persuade the reporter not to cover a story or to see that it’s really a positive development.
Often when the news media call, the news is good, or neutral — a reporter may need an expert to comment on a news event, for example. If it’s good news, the organization can enhance its reputation, using the story as a platform to present the good news and to make some basic messages about its mission and objectives. And there is no organization that will not benefit from one of its staff being proclaimed an expert by the news media.
In short, there is never a reason not to respond to the news media when they call, as long as the organization treads carefully. It is all too easy to turn a golden opportunity for positive media coverage into a disaster.