Why you shouldn’t run from the media…
The media is a powerful thing, and it can help make or break a reputation. I should know this right? After all, I work in Public Relations.
Recently, I found myself watching The Woman Who Wasn’t There, an intriguing documentary (and also book) about Tania Head, a woman claimed to be in the World Trade Towers during September 11. For seven years she led survivors, survivor families and the media to believe that she was a hero, of sorts, who escaped 78 floors of the twin towers to survive, but suffered the loss of her “husband” who was not so fortunate.
It wasn’t until The New York Times, a publication praised for its deep and moving coverage of 9/11, desired a sixth year anniversary story with Head, that things started to unfold.
David Dunlap of The New York Times tried numerous times to get ahold of Head, friends and coworkers, but no one would answer and Head just kept fleeing, inevitably leading Dunlap to keep digging for more information until the truth was exposed. His findings? Head wasn’t even who she said she was. Her name was Alicia, she wasn’t married, and she was in Barcelona, Spain on September 11, 2001.
Aside from disbelief, I couldn’t help but relate this scenario to PR and crisis communications. One thing I’ve always been taught in Public Relations is that you have to be upfront and honest with the media. You have to be willing to discuss the matter at hand and be open about it. Not only will the media commend you, but also your audience and customers will respect your company and appreciate the honesty.