Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Balloon Boy Hoax: Controlling The Media

Part two of our look at the international media vivisection of Richard Heene and his infamous balloon boy, Falcon. I really hate the old adage of "any publicity is good publicity", I think this case proves that completely incorrect. Headlines reporting Heene's previous lawsuits, civil judgments, financial dealings and employment experience; literally every shred of dirty laundry from Heene's past has been aired.

Many people at this stage throw up their hands and simply give up saying, "you can't control the media". I say that is not true. Taking control of the media starts day one. Establishing boundaries is the first job. Restricting interviews, access and yet at the same time sharing information as it relates to the case and issue at hand via an online press room is very effective. Some muckraking is inevitable into a client's past and is best revealed through a vulnerability audit beforehand- that way the legal team can head off the bad news at the pass and deflate the reporter's scoop by issuing a preemptive statement.

"If you have any questions place them in the cardboard box and they will be addressed later." Richard Heene took this approach after being inundated by reporter queries for days on end. This desperate approach does not work. Reporters will all want individual one on one interviews but that doesn't mean you have to grant them. Cherry-pick the outlets you consider the most friendly and sympathetic and grant them an interview ONLY when:
  1. You have something to say.
  2. It benefits you to say it.
Finally- never forget the end game. Any future litigation action could be jeopardized by the media communication decisions made today.

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