Knowing what sells to the media gives you a fighting chance

Knowing what sells to the media
gives you a fighting chance

Hope springs eternal in the human breast;
Man never is, but always to be, blest.
  ~ Alexander Pope, 18th century English poet

By nature, people prefer to be optimistic. They’re also inclined to be gullible. Tell them what they want to hear, and they will be happy. That takes less effort than being analytical and thinking too hard.

That lesson isn’t lost on those whose job it is to sway opinion: Politicians (with an agenda to sell). Pastors (with a dogma to instill). Businessmen (with products and services to peddle). Those who do Crisis & Reputation Management (with clients to protect).

The rules are simple: Define your audience. Sharpen the message so it resonates. Deliver it smoothly and persuasively.

In Crisis PR there’s an additional aspect, equally important: Make no mistakes. The slightest error can send a situation into a tailspin — and with it, the client’s reputation.

The media is your initial audience, and through it, the public. You need to understand what’s important to a journalist, and never lose sight of it.

A good fight sells. Sexual harassment. Wrongful discharge. Official malfeasance. Fraud. Litigation. Government investigation of a company or nonprofit. Data breach. Product contamination or recall.

As a rule, the media will take the plaintiff’s side. First, because journalists favor the underdog. Second, because the plaintiffs are providing the fuel the media needs to keep its story alive.

That’s why what the “target” says in his defense receives less attention or is treated dismissively. There’s a presumption of guilt. It’s also why, even if allegations are found untrue, the media won’t let go. It will revive the allegations and intimate that “the real facts” weren’t fully considered.

It’s essential to know what’s realistically achievable, and what isn’t. That’s the first step in building an effective defense.


Time is running out. The final free download for the season of our book, A Lawyer’s Guide to Crisis PR: Protecting Your Clients In & From the Media, is today (Sunday, March 2nd).

It was ranked by Amazon as #1 out of more than 1,500 books on Crisis PR.

It provides a glimpse into the dicey world of working with the media when time is short, tensions are high and reputations are on the line.

It’s available on Amazon, and we’ve arranged for you and your friends & colleagues to download the e-book for free today (Sunday, March 2nd). Also, anyone who buys the paperback is entitled to a free download — regardless of when. Here’s the link:


“Because Reputation Is Your Most Valuable Asset”

Gillott Communications is a Strategic PR firm. We’re Fixers. Crisis & Reputation Management. Litigation. Media Relations. Crisis Preparation & Training. You can reach Roger Gillott directly at 310-826-8696.

If you don’t already subscribe, please sign up for our blog, Insights on High-Stakes PR.

For a deeper glimpse into our world, see our book on Amazon, “A Lawyer’s Guide to Crisis PR: Protecting Your Clients In & From the Media.”

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