My boss had a negative article about her one year ago. Should I ask for a retraction?
I want advice on reputation management for my boss who had a negative article reported on her about one year ago and I am hesitant about it.
1.) Media outlets, editors, writers and journalists don't have to write an apology or retract the article unless the facts stated within the article aren't true. And, you've stated the facts in the article were correct.
2.) Media outlets writers, and journalists are not obligated to write a follow up article to an event they originally reported on unless the editor deems it is necessary to do so.
3.) Media outlets, writers, journalists, editors are not obligated to respond to every 'pitch' sent to them nor are they obligated to return a PR person's phone calls. If you had a subscription to Cision, Vocus, MyMediaInfo or other service, you would learn:
a.) What topics the reporter, writer, journalist, and editor reports on.
NOTE: With respect to your specific situation, the person who wrote the article may no longer be covering that segment of the paper or they may have been asked to step in short term to fill a void and write that article.
b.) The preferred method of contact for each specific blogger, writer, editor or journalist. Very few accept 'pitch' phone calls to them anymore. Most prefer email correspondence. As the paper's website states they want correspondence by email only.
Lastly, above you said "...it can ruin a career or business." I believe the attorney was very prophetic with his comments in the article.
So, one has to ask why did he say them, was he authorized to say what he said, why did your boss say what she said, were there any meetings between you, your boss and the attorney on how best to react and handle the crisis before commenting to the reporter?
It's for this reason why every business needs a formal crisis communications plan in place spelling out the steps and actions to be taken to handle a potentially devastating event to the business.
It's the exact thing that Olivia Pope on the TV show Scandal is all about — fixing problems related to a crisis. She provides an objective voice to people when their world is imploding around them.
Hi, Scott! Ooh, that's a tough one. First of all it was a year ago. I am guessing this is something on the Internet? I think if the article was negative enough to cause a lawsuit, then you probably could get away with it. The trouble is, it was a year ago. On the other hand, there is no harm in asking in a polite manner for a retraction.
Now, consider this, if for whatever reason, the publisher decides to post something online, like an apology or something else to bring this whole problem to light to the public--once again, then you've brought the beast to life to a new fresh audience, which would cause more problems for your boss. I think it is a tough call, and you might want to leave it alone if it isn't someplace in the public view every single day.
Reading that this article is a year old, bringing it back to light, may not serve your boss well. However, if you can create some good press about what the company is doing NOW, you can get that search buried. Socially, attending high profile worthy events, If you are active with social media, your twitter feeds, facebook, instagram et al will start filling that first page. Another thought is for her to get involved in a not for profit/cause she cares about and do some public good.
Revisiting the past will not help. The reporter is not going to help. If you are acquainted with the reporters boss, find a newsworthy reason to set up a lunch. Stay forward and positive.
1) A negative article? Was it wrong? If not, she shouldn't even consider raising it – let sleeping dogs lie.
2) If you don't, you will be opening a can of worms and you won't be in control of the outcome.
3) If there was something wrong with the article (and not that her feelings were hurt), why didn't she do something about it a year ago? It's too late – see answer 2.
4) What you should be looking to do is counter that article with positive coverage (not BS) that makes it easy to dismiss the other article as an anomaly which she was big enough to let go.
5) FInally, if answer 1 is the case, do not even consider asking for a retraction. The publication (if they've any sense) will savage you and it will be done in a very public and slow fashion. Because if there was anything wrong with it, why wasn't that addressed a year ago?
6) No, this is the final one as I saw your response to Diane. DO NOT do a release on the media failing to research something. It's neither news nor anything to do with your business. And you will anger all those millions of hard working journalists who do research things properly and they'll share your story all over the internet.
I'm beginning to wonder if the PR side of your job is something completely new to you.
One cannot typically ask for a retraction unless something is factually incorrect. Just because an article is "negative" is not in itself enough reason to approach the publication. What's more, it would be highly unusual to see a retraction take place if no issues had been raised for an entire year after publication.
My recommendation on how to handle such a situation in the future would be the following:
1. Have your boss or allies of your company write letters to the editor challenging the presumptions in the article (if incorrect)
2. Seek to publicize more favorable aspects of your boss' career
3. If said "negative" article comes up high in search results, utilize SEO to optimize any existing, favorable content so it appears more prominently in search
4. Lastly, if there were negative items reported and they are in fact true, seek ways to minimize those types of root causes in the future - be more strategic in allowing the media to access your company, do a better job of publicizing positive accomplishments, and the like.
Hope this helps,
In a word, no. As a rule of thumb, your strongest comeback is factual inaccuracy and you need to do that quick. Have done this with a national UK paper before, but you have to be sure it's an error of fact and not a difference of opinion. A fortnight is too long to leave it, in my view, let alone a year.
If there's nothing factually wrong, your best approach is to put it behind you and aim to set the record straight somewhere else. If the negative article still comes up as a top google hit against her name, then you should probably be prepared to tackle the negativity in the next interview you do - put it behind you with a clear rebuttal: a restatement of events/ facts supported by proof points (ie third party comment or data) depending on what was negative.
If there isn't a clear and decisive rebuttal, most likely you don't have a perception problem, but a reality problem - so you may need to tackle it differently.
Whatever you do - good luck with it. I've been there!
A question to ask is was the article factual and accurate? If so, asking for a retraction has no grounds. Yet your boss or the company can work to offer a story to the media, with your boss being interviewed, with an angle on how she problem solved the negative story professionally, ethically and morally. That could be a good story. Did the boss do all she could to remedy a negative situation?
If you're saying that she was misjudged in the article, that the piece was not accurate, why was nothing done at the time?
At this point her reputation has been hit yet what matters most is her character. If she responded intelligently, skillfully, ethically and morally, then she likely responded effectively.
Conflict Management Care
Hi Scott. Is this article about private life or professional life? If it is related with company have to be clarified instantly. First I would have a background check to gain all of details regarding the negative article. Then if this article is based on real facts I would build a positive marketing strategy to improve the image company. What is there cannot be retracted as somebody could have had already save it somewhere else.
The second scenario would be that if it is related with your boss private life then I would remain neutral unless you are a private P.A. Even though as a P.A. I would think carefully before to make any kind of decision. Moreover you have to consider if you have worked for your boss at that time.Considering both sides of negativity impact and assessing which aspect is involved you should make a correct decision.
You note in your comments to a question that the article was accurate -- therefore, it doesn't qualify for a retraction.
Given the situation and the time element, the best course of action would be to move on, but add as background, when appropriate, what the final outcome was in a way that positively reflects on your boss.
There are many reasons the media may not run with a follow up, which have nothing to do with your boss, so don't hold a grudge. -:)
Scott, if the article is still visible, it may have a comments function and, if so, that space could be used to complete the story, mentioning that the charges were dropped, etc.
If that option is not available, then a slow, steady drip of positive content might help to move the article off the first page. Over-powering bad news with good is about the only option you have if the originator of the bad news won't pull the piece. Even is they pull it, it may remain indexed and visible for some time.
The question is why now? A credible news source will not consider retracting or correcting a story unless there are numerous factual errors and/or the reporter had an obvious bias toward its subject matter. An opinion piece will not be retracted because it is in fact just that. Lastly, the challenge is that it was written a year ago. There should have been an immediate request for correction on content to the editor or the news director once published. If there is a new publicity push for your boss, then focus on what is happening now versus trying to correct a year old story. Should the same outlet want to do another story, then it is up to you and your boss to decide whether or not to participate and if so, conduct due diligence on the reporter, confirm the subject matter and sit in on the interview to ensure accuracy, tone and provide follow up should the interviewer request information not immediately available.
Smother it with good news and have an SEO pro work with you to make sure your blog posts and comments shoot way over the old, negative. Americans love a come-back and you can learn to play this game well. The other alternative is to piss off reporters with your retraction request, which will affect your career long beyond this boss.
Are their still comments being made on it? It may be best to "leave sleeping dogs lay" If you bring attention to it it will be looked at by more than have looked at it. If it is being brought up all the time or noted then you may want to consider the retraction. But doing this may cause the negative to happen. If you are posting for your boss and you get a reply "what about..." Then you can reply, Well here are the facts.
Retraction is not going to work.
For best and effective reputation management setup her name in Google Alerts. then.
1) Create web 2.0 properties and post an 800-1200 word article about some subject she is connected to. Use her name in that article as a thought leader and expert. Add quotes from her etc.
2) Create a Press Release and link to those web 2.0
Rince and Repeat and it will start to go down on page 2.
You need to follow these 2 steps.
1. If possible you need to check with the person who has created that negative article.
2. If you don't have an access then you need to do the ORM to pull down the negative comments, you need to post positive articles so that negative will go down and positive will come up.
If it affects her reputation in way that could impact her career she has rights. Tell her to consult an attorney.
Do not try to defend the negative reputation, rather try to build a positive reputation in parallel so that negative reputation looks negligible.