Why Have CEOs Stopped Talking to the Media? Experts Say It Is Time for Change.
A panel featuring public relations specialists and members of the media revealed a common trend: organizations aren’t doing enough to build relations with media. Reporters are being ignored or tossed low-level individuals, and companies reapproach only when they have a calculated story. Similarly, due to financial media cutbacks, reporters don’t have time to get to know the key players in the industries they cover. This dynamic only further fractures the public’s faith in both sides. A solution that some panelists seem to favor: CEOs need to talk more to the media, to build a genuine relationship and improve understanding, both ways.
The panel took place at the Schar School of Policy and Government on February 26 during “Truth on Trial”, the third in a series of events looking to grow our understanding of messaging in the digital age. The “Media and Communicators” section featured Lisa Ross, President of Edelman, Washington D.C.; Peter Carson, Managing Director, Public Affairs, North America, Weber Shandwick | Powell Tate; Steven Pearlstein, Columnist, The Washington Post; Gabriel Debenedetti, National Correspondent, New York Magazine.
“I started out 30 years ago in business reporting where you could call people and they wanted to talk to you. They wanted you to talk to their executives. They weren’t afraid of you. […] Now they feel as if they can communicate with the world directly without your intermediation.” – Steven Pearlstein, on the growing division between business and the media.
“What [owned media] doesn’t provide is third party validation of a message that you get from great reporting. Companies need both, and they need a mix. […] So I think we’re going to see a renaissance.” – Peter Carson on the forgotten values of earned media that companies are beginning to relearn.
“I did cover the Clinton campaign which was by the end thousands of people. […] There were only two or three who were authorized to speak. […] There needs to be greater access up and down the line.” – Gabriel Debenedetti, drawing a parallel between the campaign and companies limiting their own relations with reporters.
“We talk a lot about trust but a lot of this is relationships. It’s really all relationships, and it takes time to build a relationship. Both parties have to be willing to put that time into it.” – Lisa Ross, on how communicators and the media can begin getting more from one another.