I had no intention of posting today; in fact, I liked my post yesterday, Thoughts on Public Relations, and wanted it to stay front and center one more day.
But this morning’s news stories in our two national papers (sorry USA Today) for the first time I can recall conflict. I’m shocked and keep reading each story to ensure I’m not seeing things or my brain is misfiring. It’s not:
- In the Wall Street Journal (everyone knows I read it each morning and it’s my muse for blog fodder) in Personal Journal is the story “Triple That Vitamin D Intake, Panel Prescribes” by Melinda Beck. I read that column and reached for my Vitamin D capsule and promptly popped it. Beck’s reporting is taken from “a long-awaited report from the Institute of Medicine to be released Tuesday.”
- Then, in the New York Times (which I get electronically and scan headlines) this story appeared, “Extra Calcium and Vitamin D Aren’t Needed, Report Says.” This story is written by the highly credible Gina Kolata. Kolata’s reporting is taken from a “report to be released Tuesday.” It’s the same report by the Institute of Medicine.
How on earth can two highly credible, national reporters cover the same report to be released today with two opposite angles?
Should consumers triple their intake of Vitamin D as encouraged in the Wall Street Journal, or should we avoid Vitamin D and calcium because we already get enough, according to the New York Times?
Media Relations Strategy Gone Awry
As a media relations expert, I am disturbed as a professional with these stories. Knowing how national media work, it’s obvious the reporters each got an advance with the institute issuing the report.
- But, how on Earth did the media relations practitioners not know the angles these two reporters would take and recognize each was covering the story from opposite ends of the spectrum?
- Should the finger point at media relations?
- Were spokespeople trained appropriately and was there a message map created?
- Should the finger point at the spokespeople toplining highlights of the research during media interviews ?
- Was the strategy to give each paper a different angle?
- Was there a media strategy?
The national media must clarify the angles they took to cover this research, and that can only happen IF my recommended public relations strategy was executed right now:
- Issue a press release clarifying to the nation whether consumers need more Vitamin D or not (and calcium).
- Issue an Internet press release to crawl the Web immediately to rectify the news.
- Use social media for this entire week to clarify the news about Vitamin D.
- Launch a special website with highlights of the research and share the clarified message.
- Put the spokespeople in front of the national morning show circuit to fix the damage these two stories have done.
- Immediately contact each reporter with the appropriate news peg and asking for their help to rectify the news.
In my 26 years in public relations with a specialty in media relations, I’ve never seen anything like this. Astonishing.