Ben Lowndes #viewsoncomms

A perspective on PR, development and life in the South West

More councils pick web battles with media

I blogged a couple of weeks ago about why local councils should resist the temptation to use their websites to pick a fight with the local media.

This was generated by a website I’d seen which had done this in response to some negative local coverage. I thought this was a rare (and wrong) tactic at the time, and still do.

However, yesterday I found another more quirky example, but one that’s equally risky to the council’s reputation. In the media section was a page devoted to rebuttals, entitled ‘Not Guilty’, with the following explanatory text:

“[The] Council often finds itself the victim of poor or inaccurate reporting, leaving residents badly informed. The Not Guilty page will address those inaccuracies and provide you with the facts.”

An understandable response to repeated unfair treatment. But it could also draw visitors’ attention to a negative story they had not even read in the paper, heightening awareness of the issue. Why not address it with those who would have read the story in the first place, through the pages of the offending paper?

Thankfully (but maybe not for those who were looking for a ‘row story’), there were no examples on the page at the time of writing. But, as the council recommends, visitors can always ‘check back’ for updates if they want to find out more.

I’ll be interested in further details. And, if there are none, maybe it’s time to take the page down.

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