Thursday, June 29, 2006

Pick your battles

Anyone in public relations or other professional communications -- and every public official and public figure, for that matter -- should know that you can never -- NEVER -- win a battle with the media.

Now, yes, I've posted about how companies and organizations successfully "battle back with blogs" against the media. See here and here plus an update here.

Now, "battle" is a bit strong and I use it primarily because I like alliteration. But the examples I've blogged about did not battle the media directly. They were/are using blogs to voice their side of an issue, story, or just getting messages out to their respective audience(s) that they feel are not getting out via the traditional media means.

Prime examples of how people and organizations are really battling the media -- and will ultimately lose -- have come up of late.

First, locally. Toledo Mayor Carty Finkbeiner doesn't like how WSPD-AM 1370 voiced opposition to a proposed bike path in one Toledo neighborhood. So, he called the A.M. drive host Fred LeFebvre a liar, and threatened to contact the station's advertisers (see "stalemate"). Plus, Mayor Finkbeiner has banned all city employees from talking on air with WSPD, has stopped informing WSPD news personnel of news conferences, and stopped sending the station any news releases.

In return, WSPD has banned Mayor Finkbeiner from the station until he apologizes for calling LeFebvre a liar.

It's getting pretty ugly and not good for Toledo, especially since it looks like WSPD is not backing down in its rhetoric of the mayor. But, ultimately, WSPD will win because it'll have the last word.

Now, let's go national, and get into the sports world. As you probably already know, the New York Knickerbockers -- not liking the media scrutiny and criticism it's been under this year, and of late regarding fired Coach Larry Brown -- scheduled a news conference and only invited a select number of beat reporters and other media outlets (including one owned by the team's owner).

Of course, the reaction to the Knicks' poor media relations judgment has not been favorable.

Ultimately, the Knicks should stop its arrogance, open up, take the heat and move on. If the team wins, it'll all get better. If it loses, the criticism will continue -- justifiably. If Knicks management persists in excluding most of the media interested in its team, the team will be continually crucified.

Plus, that tact won't work. Reporters are resourceful. They are paid to be. They'll get the story -- whether the Knicks like it or not. The Knicks can be left out, or it can contribute and do their best to get their side story out. In other words, participate in the conversation.

Locally, as I commented a day ago, WSPD should take the high road, skip the controversy tact, be reasonable and don't tick off listeners with extreme programming. It'll be better off in the long-term.

For the Toledo mayor, get over it. Suck up your pride as there are other issues that you will need WSPD and other media as allies. Or, at least, not as your adversaries.

-- Mike

Technorati tags: Toledo, media, PR, public relations, New York Knicks

1 comment:

Tricia said...

email me at

New blog URL to come :)