It is important to have a crisis management policy to deal with negative material published against you or your company. You can never be too prepared when it comes to crisis management as it is in the first few hours that a well-planned response can have the best impact.
- In the first instance you should speak to a defamation specialist for advice and potentially a PR agent if there is going to be significant fall-out. PR agents can be really helpful because they can give practical advice about what the newspapers might just do.
- Ask journalists for any questions in writing and push back on unrealistic deadlines. Don’t be bullied to provide a verbal comment.
- Assume that what you say to journalists may well be published. In the absence of a contract (and in some cases even then) the phrase ‘off the record’ is unlikely to be a guarantee that the information will not be published in some form, albeit anonymised.
- Most publications provide specific contact details for complaints and it is advisable to use them to ensure a complaint is directed to the right person. We often liaise with legal departments of larger publications when seeking the removal of, or corrections to, defamatory material both before and after publication. Again PR agents can be helpful to try to limit creating a sense that there is more to the story.
- Seek legal advice. We have prevented, removed or limited the damage of a number of articles published online, and in the national and international press.
- If you are accused of defamation, don’t panic. There are many defences which may be open to you and actions which will limit the extent of any claim against you. Again, seek legal advice and remember that truth is a defence to defamation.
- Have social media policies in place in the workplace. These may well give you and your company further protection to deal with employees who publish defamatory and/or malicious statements both inside and outside work. A well-worded policy could save considerable time and legal fees.
For an overview of how to protect your reputation, take a look at our tools and tactics you can deploy if defamatory information is published about you or your company.
For more information about how to control and protect your brand and reputation across a range of issues, please contact Jayne Clemens on +44 (0)1392 687724 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.