CPRS Canadian Public Relations Society

Perspective Newsletter

Copyright Canadian Public Relations Society - January 25, 2000

Media Relations - Newspaper Know-How

"We're in the business of selling trust," says Jeff Ansell, a media, crisis and speech counselor.

Newspaper Know-How By: Shannon Clark,
CBC English Communications

Armed with The Globe and Mail and The National Post, guest speaker Jeff Ansell began a presentation that ranged from identifying new clients to improving crisis communication skills with a few simple tips. "There is no greater opportunity to identify new business than with the newspapers," began Ansell, at the CPRS Professional Development event, November 17th, which focused on print media savvy. In his experience, potential clients are often very interested in acquiring public relations practitioners who can convey their messages with clarity and a sense of accountability.

"We're in the business of selling trust," says Ansell. Rather than warning clients to avoid negative comments, he believes that nothing conveys trust better than candor and clarity. Identifying a confusing quote in one article, Ansell illustrated how it failed to convey good intent or enhance the organization's reputation. "Sunlight is the best disinfectant", says Ansell, who suggests that negative allegations against a client be acted upon quickly. Conveying honesty and responsibility, through expressing the willingness to act ethically, is often the key.

While Ansell is an advocate of open and honest communication, he says that public relations is a balancing act and "though we want to be open and honest, it's not a confessional." With some situations, Ansell says that any response, even declining to respond, will further a debate. To this he advises that "sometimes it's a game of got'cha and we must choose our battles".

Jeff Ansell, President of Jeff Ansell and Associates, is a media, crisis and speech counselor with almost 20 years of journalistic experience to his credit. He teaches an advanced course on dispute resolution and consensus building in high visibility cases in the Negotiation curriculum at Harvard Business School and guest lectures on management communications in the executive MBA program at the Ivey Business School at the University of Western Ontario.

For more communications strategies and media relations tips, visit Jeff Ansell and Associates' web site at www.jeffansell.com, or contact him directly at (905) 707-7088.