Better prevent than cure, I always say. Yet we are dealing with a paradox in this matter: you cannot really prevent negative press coverage. The press is free
. That means that journalists will do what they want, and publish what they want, within (hopefully) some limits.
Don’t believe that you can prevent negative press by not speaking. The “no-comment” statement is always suspicious for any journalist, no matter how tolerant. Now that we have that clarified we also have the first point on the “how to” list made clear: avoid “no-comment” situations.
Try to make sure that the journalists don’t find out something tricky about your business before you do. Before a press conference or an interview analyze potential “problem” questions and try to give the most diplomatic answer.
If the journalist is supposed to cover a story that requires sensible data (statistics, financial reports and so on) make sure to deliver correct information and if you have slang terms provide a thesaurus with the materials.
Always provide the name and contact details of your spokesperson or niche expert in every news release. This person should know everything about the topic covered in a news release and also be able to make ad hoc decision.
Don’t talk down to a journalist. It’s true, he or she cannot do your job better than you, but can you be a better journalist? Are you sure? Once again: don’t patronize!
Well… that’s about it. The rest has a lot to do with your own ability to build up positive relationships with the members of the press.