How To Release Negative News

How To Release Negative News
By Thomas Murrell MBA, CSP International Business Speaker

In Australia at the moment you can't miss the release of the Henry Tax Review.

It has been described as one of the most significant tax reforms.

In headline speak, the media are calling it "Henry 2010" and most are analysing how it affects your income, your savings, your property and your business.

Is there an angle they haven't covered?

Well, now the dust has settled I want to look at the timing of the release.

Everyone knows it is an election year and "Henry 2010" will be a major shaper of public opinion.

It is also clear that the logic of tax reform is clouded by political decisions.

For a resource rich State where I live in Western Australia, global mining companies have been hit with a 40 per cent "super tax".

As a result of being taxed more, this will erode profits, reducing dividends to shareholders.

This has had an immediate negative impact on the share price of mining stocks.

In fact some commentators say the wealth wiped from private Australian shareholders by the decision is more than the value of the benefits delivered to tax payers! But that's another story.

The point I want to explore is how do you release news that you know is going to be negative to your reputation, image or share price.

Well it is all about timing.

Why was the "Henry 2010" released on a Sunday morning?

Here are five reasons:

1. The Market Was Closed
Stock markets rely on rules and regulations around continuous disclosure.

"Once an entity is or becomes aware of any information concerning it that a reasonable person would expect to have a material effect on the price or value of the entity's securities, the entity must immediately tell the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) that information." (Refer: ASX Rules and Regulations Chapter 3)

What would be the mayhem on mining stocks if "Henry 2010" was released while the markets were open?

If you have significantly market sensitive information consider the timing of its release in terms of impact on the market.

2. Media Competition

Sunday is a day when there is less news being created.

So a benefit is less competition from other news stories and hence a greater chance of your story getting in the news if its positive.

3. Time For Analysis

On a big story like "Henry 2010" the media want time to analyse the story.

Make sure information is released well before media deadlines to allow media to analyse and craft their stories.

What about social or digital media that has no deadlines and runs 24/7 I hear you ask?

Again look at your strategy and who you are trying to target to guide your decision making on using the most appropriate and effective media channel.

4. Media Cycle

Sunday is often chosen for political announcements because it sets the agenda for media coverage for the rest of the week.

As the story unfolds, it will gain momentum with different angles.

5. Messaging is Critical

For bad or negative news, messaging is critical because every word and phrase will be hyper analysed by the media.

A good technique is: COMPLEX -> SIMPLE -> COMPELLING

Take the current US oil spill for example. Bad news for BP. How do they communicate this?

BP America's chairman, Lamar McKay told a media conference attempts to cap the well, activate the cut-off valves known as the blowout protector were like carrying out "open heart surgery at 5,000 feet in the dark with robot-controlled submarines".

Interesting messaging and choice of metaphor.

If you want to release information always consider its timing with the media.

Want to know more about message framing and timing of information to the media?

Please consider: Tuesday May 18th 2010, Subiaco Arts Centre, Perth, Australia
Writing and Pitching Winning Media Releases
Numbers are strictly limited so book here.

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