Gone are the days of the hidden, tiny text box where a publication admits it made a reporting error. In today’s digital media age, you no longer have to wait days or weeks to rectify incorrect or inflammatory comments made about your client. You can now ask outlets for updates to be made online almost immediately.
But the question remains: Does the value of correcting what you and your client see as inaccurate outweigh the risk of getting sideways with a reporter who will likely cover your client again? In GroundFloor Media’s recent experiences, the answer is a resounding yes.
First, corrections and additions to online news stories occur in real time and the new story replaces the incorrect story. This ensures that incorrect information does not live online in perpetuity. The update to the story also minimizes the chance that other news outlets will pick up and rerun the incorrect information.
Second, the shrunken newsroom and lack of fact checkers have created a greater opportunity to work directly with both reporters and their editors to ensure the news reported is, in fact, correct. Questioning stories that are loose on the facts may also encourage some editors to question whether or not the story should be more widely distributed or displayed.
There is one caveat: you must be able to prove the information reported is at minimum misleading if not outright incorrect. You must be ready and able to provide information and background that directly support your claims.
In recent weeks, we have approached both reporters and their editors to correct statements that mistakenly maligned our clients.
In one instance, our efforts helped change the story focus enough to take the spotlight off of our client. On another occasion, we were able to add a statement to the story when the reporter did not initially reach out for one. The result was a more balanced story with a softened tone.
Whether the mistake is small or large, as PR professionals, we can and should work with the press to get the facts straight.