An organisation I’ve started working with wants to publicise a big industry accreditation it has won – but it’s worried about another hatchet job by the local press.

Why? Well, the last time it publicized a similar award, the coverage that appeared in local media wasn’t the triumphal article it was hoping for. In fact, it was quite the opposite and it made the MD’s blood boil, so he wrote to the editor and demanded an apology – which he didn’t get. Instead, he got a very robust defence of the newspaper’s stance.

What had happened was that one of the directors had written a press release and waxed lyrical about the company and the accreditation. However, the reporter who picked up the story went a step further and obtained the accreditation report – as it was a matter of public record. In the article that appeared in the local newspaper, the reporter had balanced all the good bits with areas where the assessors had said that the company needed to improve its practices.

It’s a hard lesson that the company has had to learn and the curt points the editor made are tough love. Yes they ‘will cover such stories, but they won’t be told what to write, and it’s foolish for anyone to think they will’ is a summary of what the editor said.

So, where does it leave the organisation this time? Of course it will report the accreditation, but this time the press release will be more balanced in the first place.

It will be upfront about its strengths and highlight the action plan the company has already put in place to address the areas where it can improve.

Providing journalists with a complete and balanced picture aims to ease any nagging doubts they may have that something’s missing. And that’s when they start digging.

Have you ever been the victim of a press hatchet job?