Monday, April 4, 2011

Bad Press or Not?

Just Write Books was the happy and willing recipient of great coverage in our local newspaper The Times Record. The article covered most of the front and back pages of the business section. That is a lot of press. Owing to its nature, question and answer, the words were essentially mine. They were mine. The thoughtful questions were the business editor’s. He had interviewed me and come up with the questions after 90 minutes of very pleasant conversation.

Now I say very pleasant conversation. The main reason for the ease of discourse was that I was comfortable. I believe that most people do the right thing—the right thing being doing the best they can do for everyone. During our conversation/interview I answered every question as fully as I could. I did not try to hide anything—in fact—I had nothing to hide.

After the piece was published, I received dozens of e-mail and phone calls congratulating me on the great article. Here are a couple of excerpts from those:
“In addition, you reminded everyone that they have a unique story to tell by describing your “Story”. Thank You for the on-going inspiration and joy you provide all who know you.” and “What a great story in yesterday’s TIMES RECORD! Congratulations.”

If you’ve taken the time to read the article, I simply answered the questions posed by the editor. What a wonderful piece of unpaid advertising for Just Write Books. 
Now to the problem. On the front page of the paper that day there was a short blurb that stated, “Topsham’s Nancy Randolph makes a cottage industry out of helping self-published writers achieve their dreams.”

What’s wrong with that? There is the gray area. Most people have no idea that the business editor and I cringed when we read it. Since cottage industry implies arts and crafts the designation diminishes the professional work that is created in publishing. Self-publishing is a brush that has been used to demean the work of many writers that would not be considered by a large traditional publishers. I have consulted with self-published authors, but their books are not Just Write Books products.

So what did I do?

I first called a friend at the local paper and tried to ascertain the origin of the “What’s inside” blurb. Couldn’t find the source. So, what did I do next?

I wrote a letter of thank you to the business editor: 

“I was a little overwhelmed by the size of everything. Thanks heaps. The photos, the use of the QR code and the many, many column inches—all lead to phone calls from friends and others. Thanks again. FYI I have a blog entry about qr codes. BTW The little blurb on the front page seemed to be misleading mentioning self-publishing. That is not the majority of my work. I publish other books by other people. That rankled a little when I saw it. Actually, it rankled quite a bit a. I’m over it now. The Business section was glorious. Could not have asked for a better job. Thanks again. Very best regards. (my recent italics—not in original email)

So you can see that I chose to do two things. I checked for the source. I found that it was not the business editor. I sent a thank you email and still mentioned to the editor my one disappointment still finishing with a glowing thank you.

Remember you always have options. You can choose your response based on the answer to the question, “What do I want to achieve with my actions?”
Your options are:

  1. Do nothing. Public memory is short. Not reacting allows the comments or incorrect information to disappear.
  2. Contact the reporter or editor if you believe the story’s error or errors will surface again in dealing with the press about your company or organization. Nowadays the press frequently creates a separate article explaining the truth never referring to the incorrect article. On other occasions they use an area of the paper to show corrections. Caveat: This hardly ever happens.
  3. Write a press release and send it out to a broad audience. Sometimes you must do something—a report or article calls into question your ethics or your company’s ethics or the report falsely shows inappropriate behavior on behalf of your company. Things that will harm must be dealt with immediately. Call the reporters/broadcasters and issue a blanket press release. Be prepared to answer questions. See if you can develop a one page bulleted information sheet to give out to any media who request more information.
Thanks for reading my blog. I’m hoping that others are able to gain information and perspective from my experiences. 

Good luck in all your endeavors this week.
Nancy E. Randolph

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