10 June 2015
A little while ago we worked on a big announcement project involving several parties that had a specific launch date. Obviously, the press release had to be prepared and approved by all concerned beforehand, and so did various other marketing materials. Inevitably, that meant quite a few people getting to know about the story in advance. Almost inevitably, it leaked out and circulated a few days in advance of the actual announcement. This was not ideal, but in this case (as it was not about people’s jobs or anything else sensitive) it did not matter too much in the end.
It was however, a good illustration of how difficult it is to keep a good story under wraps. If something is newsworthy, people tend to talk about it and – eventually – it will reach the ears of the channel press. If they think it will interest their target audience, they will run the story. Not only are they duty-bound to do that, but they will also want to make sure they get it out there before their rivals. A story that has not yet been officially announced is great material, as no-one else will have it yet.
Of course, if the story breaks early, it really helps if you have already prepared the statement and you are ready for it – or if you can act fast to issue a holding statement should the channel media ask for confirmation or denial (it is hard to deny a story that you are going to announce officially within days).
This is why you need to talk to your PR people and get them involved early. That way you can prepare draft release and statements well in advance and they can help you respond swiftly and appropriately if you need to. It will also really help if you already have a strong reputation and relationship with channel press when something like this happens. That will also help in a crisis, when bad news breaks and you need to ensure that your side of the story is given a fair or sympathetic ear.