Advertising Law Tool Kit - Tenth Edition | 2022

Venable / 75 Although every situation is different, here are some effective strategies for mitigating negative press: • Develop a protocol in advance, before your business is contacted by a media outlet or reporter (e.g., include a dedicated press phone number on your website and train customer support personnel on where to refer calls). • Research the media outlet, reporter, and recent stories to assess the likely content and tone of the anticipated story. • Engage the media outlet or reporter to understand the likely content of the anticipated story. • Present how and why the information relied upon is not accurate or reliable or would mislead the public if not presented together with other helpful information. • In written correspondence, memorialize the flaws in the information relied upon, as well as helpful information that the story should present. • Recognize that your correspondence may be included in the story, and therefore should be written in an even-handed, measured manner. • Where necessary, prepare a client representative to be interviewed with mock interviews, and clear, simple, and well-founded talking points and counter- messaging. • If faced with a product “attack” or a “will it work” story, provide a demonstration of the product following product instructions to show proper product efficacy. • Set and enforce ground rules for any interview (e.g., that a television interview be conducted live on-air to prevent the possibility of selective editing). • If a published story contains false statements, work with legal counsel to develop a strong written demand for a retraction or substantial revisions. • Use online reputation management techniques and public relations professionals to minimize the negative publicity, discredit the story, or share the client’s positive story.