Have you seen TV footage showing a Management staff of an organization being interviewed and the person is asked a question by the journalist and the response from the person is “No Comment”. To a typical journalist, that is an answer in itself. As said by Nancy Reagan always said, “Just say NO,” to “no comment.”
A “no comment” situation might work in any other type of relationship- Boss-Subordinate; Parent-to-child; spouse-to-spouse amongst others but not for a journalist.
““No comment” is the least appropriate and least productive response” It adds absolutely nothing and leaves the public with a negative impression”. The phrase is pitiful for PR and a misstep in media relations. It conveys the wrong perception with journalists and the public alike. It’s also a journalism code for lack of transparency.
Rather than stating “no comment” in response to questions from journalists, other creative languages can and should be used, whether verbally or on social media.
The following are just a few examples of what to say instead:
1) “We can’t rule anything in or out at this time.”
2) “We are prohibited by law from confirming or denying that information” (if applicable).
3) “We are assessing [studying/evaluating/investigating] the situation
and will have a complete response once all the facts are known.”
4) “Instead of commenting on that right now, let me point out…”
5) “It’s premature to comment at this time because…”
6) “That’s an interesting question, but what you should really be asking is…”
7) “Let’s look at this issue from a broader perspective…”
8) “There is an equally important concern…”
9) “Let’s not forget the underlying problem…”
10) “That point may have some validity, but hear me out…”
The most obvious thing to do is be well prepared before ever walking out of the building or walking into the room. You need to be media trained. You can’t take it back after you’ve screwed up, you have to do it right the first time.
Address the reporter, be polite, bridge their question to allow yourself to move beyond, but if you promise to be out in an hour, don’t be late. If you promise to email or call the reporter back, be sure to do so. Don’t just do it to ghost them!
Olutayo Irantiola writes #PRQuotes weekly