Rotten fish

I heard somebody on the radio yesterday trying to talk down the impact of negative media coverage. So, of course, the old chestnut was hauled out: “Today’s newspaper headlines are tomorrow’s fish and chip wrappers”.

Yes, of course, that used to be the case. Time buried most scandals. And the strategy for crisis and issues management took good account of that. “This time next year”, we’d say to a troubled client, “will anyone really remember this?”.

But no longer. The arrival of the Internet age means that the media storm that breaks about your ears will be still rumbling on for years into the future. Any time that anyone researches you or your business, there it all will be, stinking like rotten fish, but never disappearing down the waste disposal chute.

This makes it much more important than ever that negative media coverage is challenged, countered and corrected at once, as soon as it appears. Yes, there are things you can do about old, inaccurate and damaging stories if they keep popping up on the web. But this can be difficult, messy and not 100 % effective. The time to fight back is when you are under attack. Keeping your head down and hoping for the “fish and chip wrapper” effect just won’t work any longer. Here’s the new rule to remember: “What the media hook today will be rotten fish tomorrow”.

Terence Fane-Saunders