I have to admit that as a communications professional, I get a rush out of debating strategies for handling a client’s crisis.
Should you talk to or avoid the likes of 20/20, Frontline or, for that matter, The New York Times when these outlets seem bent on pursuing an angle, no matter what you say? For some embattled companies, these decisions are the easy ones. But what about when a crisis stems not from a single incident but from repeated onslaughts mounted by what you and your client perceive as a continually biased media landscape?
Charles Koch, CEO of Koch Industries, the second largest privately held company in the U.S. and owner of subsidiaries including Georgia-Pacific, clearly feels under attack from the likes of MSNBC, Bloomberg and The New York Times, just to name a few. To battle back, Koch’s PR team created KochFacts.com. This response website declares that it is a “repository for media responses and factual information presented by Koch Industries, Inc.”
KochFacts.com employs an aggressive approach in addressing any and all mistakes, missteps or mistruths perpetrated against Koch by the media. Koch and company certainly aren’t just taking their lumps and hoping all will quickly pass. The site has some pretty strong SEO components, including using the strength of the articles its linking to get good placement. (See a recent post here about why SEO is important especially before a crisis.) It even has a Twitter feed for the latest breaking responses. And, the site’s creators are so confident in their messaging they are running a pay-per-click ad campaign on the media-focused blog Poynter.org to ensure journalists are aware of the site’s availability and content.
But does Charles Koch protest too much? The site absolutely provides a platform to tell his perception of the truth — his whole truth and nothing but his truth. KochFacts includes multiple responses to MSNBC, Bloomberg and others and an entire section devoted to rebutting “misguided” political attacks. There is also a clever counter reflecting the number of articles relating to Koch that The New York Times has run this year. Therein lies the problem. At some point, the wealth and breadth of defensive responses themselves becomes overwhelming.
No matter how you view Charles Koch or Koch Industries, what’s your take on the response site tactic? Would you recommend it to a client to a client having a difficult time getting their story told in the media?
By Emily Port