Handling Media Complaints

28th February 2014

It can send a chill down the comms teams’ spine when a call comes in from a journalist handling a complaint from one of your customers. At risk is your company’s reputation, as your customer is determined to make you famous for the wrong things.

The thing is people do not complain without reason. If your systems had worked it should have never got this far because an escalation process should have kicked in. But it didn’t.

Absolutely key is to treat the complaint with respect and get on and get it sorted straight away

• Find out journalist’s time frame – minutes, hours, days, weeks.
• Make sure you have their direct line/mobile number, email etc.
• Be aware that deadlines for newspaper copy may be much earlier than publication day.
• Find out whether you will discuss a case with a journalist without express permission from the individual.
• Get the full background as soon as you can. Make sure your systems are geared up for this.
• Tell the journalist when you can expect to have this information and can give a full response. Meet that deadline.
• Read the press regularly. Pay attention in particular to readers’ letters columns.
• Say sorry, but do not apologise for inconvenience. This is beyond inconvenience.
• Has the case revealed short-comings in your systems? Have the conviction to fix it and the humility to explain to the journalist and the customer what you intend to do to fix it for good.