Tuesday, February 09, 2010

I'm going to sue!

What do you do if you spot a story about you in the press which you regard as damaging? Your first reaction might be to sue the author, and the media outlet, which is understandable. However, it may not be the right thing to do. It's easier than ever these days to monitor the media. Google Alerts can send an email to your desktop as soon as your name or company is mentioned anywhere on the web.

I received one such alert last week, which pointed me to a blog where I was described in less than glowing terms after a BBC interview that I'd recently appeared in. Naturally, I was annoyed, but in the end I took no action. It was one person's view, and to respond would only have made the story bigger.

Here's a check-list of things to consider if you have been criticised in the media:

* Monitor your reputation at all times
* Quick, simple actions can defuse bigger problems
* Talk it over with colleagues - never act alone
* Consider how much damage has been done
* If you decide to comment, address all the issues
* Don't use the "not many people affected" defence
* If compensation is due, pay it quickly
* Get as much coverage as possible for any remedial action
* A call to the editor may be better than a formal complaint
* If you do complain, be prepared for more scrutiny

In short, decide if any action at all is required, and if it is, be quick, decisive and honest.

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